From benefits to success : post-9/11 student veterans’ educational outcomes at a Texas community college
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The Post-9/11 GI Bill represents unprecedented federal funding intended to aid veterans in furthering their education and successfully making the transition to the civilian workforce. While widely reported that the student veteran population experiences unique challenges on college campuses that may hinder their degree completion, there is little empirical research on their educational outcomes. Research is especially scarce at the community college level. The purpose of this study was to investigate the variables that influence completion and transfer rates among Post-9/11 student veterans enrolled at a Texas community college. The Bean and Metzner (1985) model of nontraditional student attrition served as the conceptual framework for the study and was adapted to reflect the background and defining variables, academic outcome, and environmental variables relevant to the study’s focus on student veterans and the mission of community colleges. Institutional and National Student Clearinghouse data were used in this study. First, descriptive analysis offered a baseline portrait of student veterans who were successful at completing a certificate/degree or transferring and those who were not. Second, independent measures t-tests and chi-square tests of independence revealed age, at time of enrollment, and first-term cumulative GPA were significantly associated to student veterans who earned a certificate or an associate degree, or transferred to a four-year institution. Next, a logistic regression analysis investigated the predictive nature of these variables to a student veteran’s successful completion or transfer. The overall model was found to be statistically significant, ([chi]² = 12.117, p = .002, df = 2) and correctly predicted 86.5% of the population’s outcome. Finally, the influence of first-term cumulative GPA prompted a linear regression analysis of its relationship, as a dependent variable, with the remaining independent variables. The results suggested a statistically significant negative relationship between minority racial status and GPA, a statistically significant positive influence for full-time enrollment status, and a statistically significant positive effect for older student veterans on GPA. Recommendations for policy, practice, and future research are addressed in this study.