In 2009, institutions included in the study had an average of 201 active-duty military students and 156 veterans. This year, those schools averaged 435 active-duty military students and 370 veterans.
“Campuses across the country have taken major steps forward over the past three years to develop more specialized programs and services to serve veteran and military students,” said Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, in a statement. “This report shows that while challenges remain, higher education is working hard to meet the needs of this important and growing population of students.”
Although the report indicates signs of progress, it also lays bare a few areas in which improvements could be made. Only 37 percent of the institutions that provide services for military students and veterans include transition assistance in those programs. And only 28 percent of those schools have developed an expedited re-enrollment process to help student veterans restart their academic careers.
Michael Dakduk, executive director of nonprofit Student Veterans of America, said he's encouraged by the amount of progress he's seen in the way higher education deals with student veterans. Still, he said, more changes need to be made.
Student veterans face a particular challenge in that they have two sets of bureaucracy to navigate, while most college students only see one. Most students deal only with challenges of financial aid, registration and enrollment.
Student veterans face issues with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in addition to those other challenges.
Most campuses now have certifying officials to help student veterans work through their problems with getting their benefit paperwork processed. But anytime one set of administrative red tape meets another, it creates opportunities for paperwork issues, confusion and headaches.
“That's just an inevitable challenge,” he said. “There's been progress, but I think there's still a lot of work to be done.”