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Traditional four-year institutions, two-year colleges and universities, and for-profit institutions take their own approaches when reaching out to former service men and women.

Veterans Present Unique Recruiting Opportunities for Higher Education

  • 8/10/2012

Veterans Present Unique Recruiting Opportunities for Higher Education

As members of the military return to civilian life, many are looking to earn academic degrees. Veterans scouting for the right educational experience provide higher education institutions the opportunity to further enrich the diversity of their student bodies.

Not all institutions view recruiting vets the same way, however. Traditional four-year institutions, two-year colleges and universities, and for-profit institutions take their own approaches when reaching out to former service men and women, according to several higher education clients of CliftonLarsonAllen.

Institutions that target former military students sometimes offer veterans incentives like those for other special populations. Incentives may include housing and student lounges that encourage people with similar interests or backgrounds — like military service — to spend non-academic time together.

Four-year colleges

Four-year liberal arts colleges welcome students returning from military service. Like any other group that brings diversity, veterans contribute to campus life. However, they don’t necessarily make up a significant percentage of these colleges’ student populations or recruiting efforts. Unlike students who attend four-year institutions and are interested in a traditional experience and living on campus, most veterans are older and prefer living off campus.

Four-year colleges appeal to returning military service people who wish to take online courses. Knowing this, colleges that have strong online academic programs tend to promote this to veterans and other nontraditional students.

Trade schools and for-profit institutions

Two-year trade schools and community colleges look to attract students who seek retraining or a new trade, including people who have been in the military. They use the same types of marketing messages to attract veterans and the unemployed. Some community colleges are located near military bases and already have relationships with the bases, in which case they focus on the military population.

For-profit institutions have a different situation, as a significant share of their revenue must come from non-federal sources. These institutions are concerned that there is a push to count veterans benefits as federal funding in the future.

Yellow Ribbon program

Many people choose military service specifically to earn benefits for college tuition. Under the Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007 “Yellow Ribbon” program, the U.S. Veterans Administration pays tuition based on the cost of each state’s highest undergraduate tuition at a public university. The program is available for college, technical, business, online, and correspondence schools.

One example of the Yellow Ribbon program would work this way: Suppose that a state’s highest public university tuition is $15,000 a year and a veteran is scheduled to enroll in a private college that costs $25,000 a year. The VA pays the private college $15,000 in tuition, the college agrees to pay an additional $3,000, and the VA matches the $3,000. The student is responsible for the remainder.

Veterans who serve 10 years in the military can also transfer unused benefits to their children under the Veterans Educational Assistance Act.


Bill LeClaire, Higher Education Partner
william.leclaire@cliftonlarsonallen.com or 320-203-5521