Higher Education

, Volume 70, Issue 3, pp 535–550 | Cite as

The higher education landscape for US student service members and veterans in Indiana

  • Stacie Hitt
  • Martina Sternberg
  • Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth
  • Joyce Vaughan
  • Rhiannon Carlson
  • Elizabeth Dansie
  • Martina Mohrbacher


The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 or “New GI Bill” has resulted in rising enrollment and related demand for services by students in the USA. We examined current supports for student service members and veterans at institutions of higher education in Indiana in the context of this national trend. We employed prospective student service members who contacted campuses to ask staff and administrators about admissions, financial aid, academic, and student services policies and programs. Results showed that most institutions had the ability to refer to disability services, award credit for military training, and waive reapplication requirements following deployment. Few institutions reported support to military families or availability of student veterans’ organizations. Institution type and size, degrees offered, and the presence of graduate programs were related to availability of programs and services. Considerable variability across campuses suggested opportunities to refine, coordinate, and expand assistance to student service members and veterans.


Higher education Post-secondary Student veterans Military Student service members Student services 



This study was supported by strengthening supports for military families in Indiana and beyond, Grant #2007 1325-000 from Lilly Endowment (Principal investigator: Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth). We are grateful to the campus representatives who responded to our questions and to the staff and students at MFRI who helped to gather, record, and code the data.


  1. Ackerman, R., DiRamio, D., & Mitchell, R. L. G. (2009). Transition: Combat veterans as college students. In R. Ackerman & D. DiRamio (Eds.), New directions in student services, 126. Creating a veteran-friendly campus: Strategies for transition and success (pp. 5–14). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  2. American Council on Education. (2009). Military service members and veterans in higher education: What the new GI bill may mean for postsecondary education. Retrieved from http://www.acenet.edu/Content/NavigationMenu/ProgramsServices/CPA/Publications/MilService.errata.pdf.
  3. American Council on Education. (n.d.). Promising practices in veteran’s education: Outcomes and recommendations from the success for veterans award grants. Retrieved from www.acenet.edu/links/military/promising_practices.html.
  4. Barry, A. E., Whiteman, S. D., MacDermid Wadsworth, S., & Hitt, S. F. (2012). The alcohol use and associated mental health problems of student service members/veterans in higher education. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 19(5), 415–425.Google Scholar
  5. Bauman, M. (2009). The mobilization and return of undergraduate students servicing in the National Guard and Reserves. In R. Ackerman & D. DiRamio (Eds.), New directions in student services, 126. Creating a veteran-friendly campus: Strategies for transition and success (pp. 15–23). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  6. Boyer, E. L. (1990). Campus life: In search of community. Princeton, NJ: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.Google Scholar
  7. Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. (2007). The Carnegie classification of institutions of higher education. Retrieved from http://classifications.carnegiefoundation.org.
  8. Caspers, S., & Ackerman, R. (2012). Contemporary political and legislative frameworks for serving veterans enrolled in higher education (20–38). In F. A. Hamrick & C. B. Rumann (Eds.), Called to serve: A handbook on student veterans in higher education. Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  9. Chickering, A. W., & Reisser, L. (1993). Education and identity (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  10. Church, T. E. (2009). Returning veterans on campus with war-related injuries and the long road back home. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 22(1), 43–52.Google Scholar
  11. DeSawal, D. (2012). Contemporary student veterans: Enrollment patterns and student engagement. In F. A. Hamrick & C. B. Rumann (Eds.), Called to serve: A handbook on student veterans and higher education (pp. 71–86). Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  12. Di Pietro, G. (2013). Military conscription and university enrollment: Evidence from Italy. Journal of Population Economics, 26, 619–644.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. DiRamio, D., Ackerman, R., & Mitchell, R. L. (2008). From combat to campus: Voices of student-veterans. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 45(1), 73–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dougherty, K. J., & Kienzl, G. S. (2006). It’s not enough to get through the open door: Inequalities by social background in transfer from community college to four-year colleges. Teachers College Record, 108(3), 452–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Elkins, S. A., Braxton, J. M., & James, G. W. (2000). Tinto’s separation stage and its influence on first semester college student persistence. Research in Higher Education, 41, 251–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Elliott, M., Gonzalez, C., & Larsen, B. (2011). U.S. military veterans transiton to college: Combat, PTSD, and alienation on campus. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 48(3), 279–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Frain, M. P., Bishop, M., & Bethel, M. (2010). A roadmap for rehabilitation counseling to serve military veterans with disabilities. Journal of Rehabilitation, 76(1), 13–21.Google Scholar
  18. Gawande, A. (2004). Casualties of war: Military care for the wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. New England Journal of Medicine, 352, 2471–2475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Glover-Graf, N. M., Miller, E., & Freeman, S. (2010). Accommodating veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in the academic setting. Rehabilitation Education, 24(1/2), 43–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Grossman, P. D. (2009). Foreword with a challenge: Leading our campuses away from the perfect storm. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 22(1), 4–9.Google Scholar
  21. Haines, D. (2013). More aware of everything: Exploring the returnee experience in American higher education. Journal of Studies in International Education, 17(1), 9–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hawthorne, B. A., Bauman, M. C., & Ross, L. E. (2012). Student veterans’ organizations and student self-advocacy. In F. A. Hamrick & C. B. Rumann (Eds.), Called to serve: A handbook on student veterans (pp. 221–252). Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  23. Hill, R. W., Gordon, A. S., & Kim, J. M. (2002). Learning the lessons of leadership experience: Tools for interactive case method analysis. Marina del Ray, CA: University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies.Google Scholar
  24. Hossler, D., Ziskin, M., & Gross, J. P. K. (2009). Getting serious about institutional performance in student retention: Research-based lessons on effective policies and practices. About Campus, 13(6), 2–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. iCasualties.org. (2012). Retrieved from: http://icasualties.org/OEF/USCasualtiesByState.aspx.
  26. Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs. (2012). The department of veterans affairs newsletter. (Edition 2012-1).Google Scholar
  27. Indiana National Guard. (2011). Report to the Indiana governor (brief 1). IN: Indianapolis.Google Scholar
  28. Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. (2010). Returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Preliminary assessment of readjustment needs of veterans, service members, and their families. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  29. Jackson, T., Fey, C. J., & Ewing Ross, L. E. (2012). Institutional leadership on serving student veterans and service members. In F. A. Hamrick & C. B. Rumann (Eds.), Called to serve: A handbook on student veterans and higher education (pp. 225–275). Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  30. Karczewski, P. (2008). The soldier scholar: Learning on the front lines. The Military Educator, 16(1), 13.Google Scholar
  31. Karimi, R., & Khan, S. (2007). Key elements towards academic success for nontraditional students in a pharmacy school. Journal of Applied Sciences Research, 3(6), 427–430.Google Scholar
  32. Kecmanovic, M. (2012). The short-run effects of the Croatian War on education, employment, and earnings. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 57(6), 991–1010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Keller, K., Poutvaara, P., & Wagener, A. (2010). Does military draft encourage enrollment in higher education? Evidence from OECD countries. FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, 66(2), 97–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kelly, L. J. (1996). Implementing Astin’s I-E-O model in the study of student retention: A multivariate time dependent approach. Paper presented at the Annual Forum of the Association for Institutional Research (36th, Albuquerque, NM, May 508).Google Scholar
  35. Kenner, C., & Weinerman, J. (2011). Adult learning theory: applications to nontraditional college students. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 41(2), 310–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kim, Y. M., & Cole, J. S. (2013). Student veterans/service members’ engagement in college and university life and education. Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education & National Survey of Student Engagement.Google Scholar
  37. Kraus, A., & Rattray, N. (2012). Understanding disability in the student veteran community. In F. A. Hamrick & C. B. Rumann (Eds.), Called to serve: A handbook on student veterans in higher education (pp. 116–137). Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  38. Krumrei-Mancuso, E. J., Newton, F. B., Kim, E., & Wilcox, D. (2013). Psychosocial factors predicting first-year college student success. Journal of College Student Development, 54(3), 247–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kuh, G. D. (2006). Making students matter. In J. C. Burke (Ed.), Fixing the fragmented university: Decentralization with direction (pp. 235–264). Bolton MA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  40. Kuh, G. D., Kinzie, J., Buckley, J. A., Bridges, B. K. & Hayek, J. C. (2006). What matters to student success: A review of the literature. (Commissioned report for the national symposium on postsecondary student success: Spearheading a dialog on student success). Retrieved from National Center for Education Statistic website: http://nces.ed.gov/npec/pdf/kuh_team_report.pdf.
  41. Kuh, G. D., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J. H., & Whitt, E. (2006b). Student success in college: Creating conditions that matter. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  42. Livingston, W. G., Havice, P. A., Cawthron, T. W., & Fleming, D. S. (2011). Coming home: Student veterans’ articulation of college re-enrollment. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 48(3), 315–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. MacLean, A. & Elder, G.H. (2007). Military service in the life course. Annual Review of Sociology, 33, 175–196.  Google Scholar
  44. Maurin, E., & Xenogiana, T. (2007). Demand for education and labor market outcomes: Lessons from the abolition of compulsory conscription in France. The Journal of Human Resources, 42(4), 795–819.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. McBain, L., Kim, Y. M., Cook, B. J., & Snead, K. M. (2012). From soldier to student II: Assessing campus programs for veterans and service members. Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education.Google Scholar
  46. National Survey of Student Engagement. (2010). Major differences: Examining student engagement by field of study—annual results 2010. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research.Google Scholar
  47. Ness, B. M., & Vroman, K. (2014). Preliminary examination of the impact of traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder on self-regulated learning and academic achievement among military service members enrolled in postsecondary education. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 29(1), 33–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. O’Hanlon, M., & Livingston, I. (2009, November 20). Iraq index tracking variables of reconstruction & security in post-Saddam Iraq. Retrieved from http://www.brookings.edu/iraqindex.
  49. O’Herrin, E. (2011). Enhancing veteran success in higher education. Peer Review, 13(1), 15–18.Google Scholar
  50. Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Military Community and Family Policy). (2010). Profile of the military community: DOD 2010 demographics. Alexandria, VA: ICF international. Retrieved from http://www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil/12038/Project%20Documents/MilitaryHOMEFRONT/Reports/2010_Demographics_Report.pdf.
  51. Persky, K. R., & Oliver, D. E. (2010). Veterans coming home to the community college: Linking research to practice. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 35(1–2), 111–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Radford, A. W. (2009). Military service members and veterans in higher education: What the New GI Bill may mean for postsecondary institutions. Washington, DC: American Council on Education.Google Scholar
  53. Redden, E. (2008). Operation transition. Inside higher education. Retrieved from http://insidehighered.com/news/2008/07/10/veterans.
  54. Rendon, L. I. (1993). Validating culturally diverse students: Toward a new model of learning and student development. Washington, DC: Office of Educational Research and Improvement.Google Scholar
  55. Rendon, L. I., Jalamo, R. E., & Amaury, N. (2000). Theoretical considerations in the study of minority student retention in higher education. In J. M. Braxton (Ed.), Reworking the student departure puzzle part II: New theoretical directions (pp. 127–156). Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Richardson, J. T. E. (1994). Mature students in higher education: Academic performance and intellectual ability. Higher Education, 28, 373–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rumann, C. B., & Hamrick, F. A. (2010). Student veterans in transition: Re-enrolling after war zone deployments. Journal of Higher Education, 81, 431–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Steele, J., Salcedo, N., & Coley, J. (2010). Service members in school: Military veterans experience using the post-9/11 GI Bill and pursuing postsecondary education. Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education.Google Scholar
  59. Tanelian, T., & Jaycox, L. H. (2008). Invisible wounds of war: Psychological and cognitive injuries, their consequences, and services to assist recovery. Santa Monica, CA: Center for Military Health Policy Research.Google Scholar
  60. Thelin, J. R. (2004). A history of American higher education. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Tinto, V. (1990). Principles of effective retention. Journal of the Freshman Year Experience, 2(1), 35–48.Google Scholar
  62. Tinto, V. (1999). Taking retention seriously: Rethinking the first year of college. NACADA Journal, 19(2), 5–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. U.S. Department of Education (2013). 8 Keys to success: Supporting veterans, military and military families on campus. Retrieved from: http://www.ed.gov/blog/2013/08/8-keys-to-success-supporting-veterans-military-and-military-families-on-campus/.
  64. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2013). Digest of education statistics, 2012. Google Scholar
  65. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2012). Veteran population Indiana. Retrieved from: http://www.va.gov/vetdata/Veteran_Population.asp.
  66. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2012). Veterans administration annual benefits report: fiscal year 2011. Retrieved from http://www.vba.va.gov/REPORTS/abr/2011_abr.pdf.
  67. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Benefits Administration (2011). Annual benefits report fiscal year 2010. Retrieved October 27, 2011 from http://www.vba.va.gov/REPORTS/abr/2010_abr.pdf.
  68. White House, U. S. (2011). Strengthening our military families: Meeting Americas commitment. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  69. Whiteman, S. D., Barry, A. E., Mroczek, D. K., & MacDermid Wadsworth, S. (2013). The development and implications of peer emotional support for student service members/veterans and civilian college students. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 60(2), 265–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Woll, P. (2010). Teaching America’s best: Preparing your classroom to welcome returning veterans and service members. New York, NY: Give an Hour.Google Scholar
  71. Wormus, K. (2010). Considering students with families in higher education. Journal of Student Affairs, 18, 19–26.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stacie Hitt
    • 1
  • Martina Sternberg
    • 1
  • Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth
    • 1
  • Joyce Vaughan
    • 1
  • Rhiannon Carlson
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Dansie
    • 1
  • Martina Mohrbacher
    • 1
  1. 1.Military Family Research Institute at Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

Personalised recommendations