About 30 percent of colleges and universities have reduced funding for veteran-support programs during the past year, and some schools have eliminated their support offices entirely, according to a recent study.
The past year of coronavirus pandemic shutdowns and safety measures have created unprecedented challenges for veterans seeking college degrees, including problems related to funding and staffing, according to the study.
The problems for veterans seeking to use their military education benefits has been compounded by cutbacks at schools that have reduced funding and support for veterans support services, according to a survey of military-connected students by Operation College Promise and the Texas A&M University System.
Nearly 40 percent of student respondents say they’ve seen a reduction in communication with school staff since the pandemic measures took hold last March.
In the 2019-2020 school year, about 80 percent of schools surveyed said they had a dedicated office for military support, but over the past year that fell to about 72 percent, according to the survey.
Schools that report having career counseling services for veterans fell from 66 in 2019-2020 to 58 this year, they survey found.
The cutbacks come at a time when many veterans are also struggling to find employment. The veterans unemployment rate ticked upward to 5.5 percent in January.
Overall, student veterans say the coronavirus pandemic has negatively impacted them in numerous ways. Nearly 60 reported a financial impact; about 32 percent noted an impact on employment. A majority, 52 percent, noted mental health problems, according to the survey.
The survey was conducted by Operation College Promise, a national policy, research, and education program based in Trenton, New Jersey, which supports veterans seeking to transition from the military to college.
The survey included responses from 75 colleges and universities and 230 military connected students.