A report surfaced last week that Congress has decided to get involved with the low graduation rates of veterans in community colleges:
“An average of only 15% of full-time student veterans receiving benefits from GI Bill funding graduated from community colleges with a two-year degree in 2014, and part-time graduation was at 7% – though both were below the national average for non-veterans.”
And the independent National Student Clearinghouse reports
The national average three-year community-college graduation rates for full-time and part-time students are 23 percent and 12 percent, respectively,
But graduation rates weren’t always this low. In 2011, an article by US News & World Report showed that researchers analyzed records of just under 800,000 student veterans and
Found nearly 52 percent of the veterans who began using their GI Bill benefits between 2002 and 2010 earned a postsecondary degree or certificate by June 2013. By comparison, 54 percent of nonveteran students earned a degree or certificate within six years.
So, what changed between 2011 and 2017?
The American Council on Education published an article entitled, Why Graduation Rates Matter—and Why They Don’t. Their bottom line was:
When graduation rates are determined, little is controlled and much is excluded or ignored. At best, graduation rates are—for the vast majority of schools—an estimate based on a relatively small number of students. And therefore, as they always say in the car ads, “Your mileage may vary.”
But here is the problem with any action by Congress in the first place: the college graduation rate is flawed — and hard to fix. The main reason is a 1990 law that
Prohibits the federal government from tracking data on individual students, figuring out with certainty what happens to transfers is tricky. So is deciding whether a college deserves credit, blame, or something in between if a student decides to attend somewhere else and gets a degree there instead.
So, besides graduation rates being suspect, there are other possible reasons for veterans to leave the community college, including: they had gained the skills to get a job and left the community college – or their life changed and they needed a full-time job immediately.
And finally, there is this question: what business is it for congress to question the reasons veterans are not graduating from community college when they don’t have the tools nor proper legislation to find the correct data in the first place?
Most veterans would say, “Damn good question!”
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