VA benefits are helping veterans become more successful than ever. With the help of these benefits, veterans can earn their college degree with minimal financial debt.
Veterans like Alex Lang, a 24-year-old U.S. Army veteran, believe they have VA education benefits to thank for their college success. After joining the army and serving in the infantry right out of high school, Lang left his military days behind due to an injury to his back.
Having the maturity he said he lacked fresh out of high school, he decided to seek a bachelor’s degree in nursing at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, a school he quickly grew to love and find success at. He said he hopes to later attend graduate school as well.
“I had the benefits,” he said. “I knew I was getting free college, and I thought if I didn’t take advantage of that it wouldn’t be very smart of me. I just want to make the best of what I was offered.”
On top of keeping good grades, Lang works at the Veteran Services office and teaches Texas government at the university. He is part of the Tarleton Veterans Association and the Tarleton Student Government, serving as the veterans congressperson.
Lang isn’t the only veteran looking to use their education benefits at Tarleton. Stephanie Kittleson, an assistant director in charge of Veteran Services for Tarleton State University, reported that the university has seen a steady increase in veteran enrollment for the past three years. She even reported that 26% of student veterans at Tarleton at currently graduate students.
How do veteran students fair in comparison to other students? Research reported by Student Veterans of America last April showed student veterans like Lang fair better than non-veteran, non-traditional students of similar ages.
Student Veterans of America, in fact, also reported that veterans students average higher GPAs than traditional students ages 18-23, with student veterans averaging at a 3.34 and traditional students a 2.94 GPA.
“There are a few things that veterans could struggle with when they’re returning to school. One of the primary things is scheduling. A lot of times our veterans have children, they have jobs and they have other responsibilities outside of school that they have to take care of, so it can be difficult to get into classes that can fit into the schedule for those students,” Kittleson said.
Although veterans struggle with reintegration after their service, statistics are increasingly showing that they exceed expectations as students.
For more information about veteran education benefits, visit the Veteran Affairs website at https://www.va.gov/education/ , and for more statistics on veteran education success, visit the Student Veterans of America website.