Veteran enrollment increases at UA partly due to GI Bill
An increase of veteran enrollment at the UA can be attributed to the rise in GI Bill use, as well as troops returning from the war in Afghanistan.
Assistant Registrar Cori Cashen said that the enrollment of students using the GI Bill is 200 more than last semester. The growing number of veteran students is due to the larger general population of veterans now that involvement in Afghanistan has begun to decline, said Maralynn Bernstein, Veterans’ Services Coordinator.
“Obviously there are many factors which have contributed to the increased numbers of veterans seeking higher education,” said Ricardo Pereyda, president of the UA Veteran’s club. “These range from a generous GI Bill, to in-state tuition, priority registration and, in my opinion, the most important factor, a strong support network on campus.”
Cashen said the retention rate of veteran students at the UA is 72 percent. That number is higher than the national average, Bernstein said, adding that veteran students are commonly forced to drop out of school because of conflicts with other commitments, such as family.
“The change from soldier to a student is also difficult, depending on the circumstances that the different veterans have been through in the past,” Bernstein said. “I work on it every day, I have students come in and sit in front of me and tell me their stories, and tell me where they’re having struggles and where they’re having issues.”
According to Bernstein, Arizona is one of the states with a high population of veterans, resulting in the need for many resources at the UA for veteran students. Some resources include a student veteran center, which assists veterans in enrolling and adjusting to college, and staff at UA who understand veteran benefits and how to maximize their usefulness to the veteran students.
“They don’t have the luxury of taking different classes and experimenting, whereas a lot of your typical students take five years to get their bachelor’s (degree),” Bernstein said.
Additionally, the UA provides on-campus psychology to assist students suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“These are all hugely important to the success of the student because these students have other obligations,” Bernstein said. “A lot of them have family, a lot of them have children. Anything we can do to make things easier for the students, we’re trying to do.”