August 2016 - VA reporting of graduation rates for military connected students

August 29, 2016
  • Research
  • graduation rates
  • Military Students


Michelle Mott, Associate Director of Government Relations and Communications, posed a question through the AACRAO Advocacy list serve asking members if their institution has any concerns about the way the VA is about to start reporting graduation rates for military connected students. The feedback she received indicated that many institutions are concerned about the methodology. Michelle notes, “The data that the VA will begin to report in September is based only on the completion rates they have in their system for students that graduate before benefits run out. If students graduate after they have exhausted their eligible benefits, use any part of their GI Bill benefits at another school (including transferring or graduating from another institution), or pass remaining benefits along to a dependent, they are not included in the completion rate data. This obviously leads to grossly inadequate and incomplete information being reported for all institutions.”

We intend to contact the department on behalf of the membership to express the concerns raised and will keep you informed of any updates. Please email Michelle directly should you have any further comments or questions.

AACRAO Research Initiatives

Upcoming Topics for the 60-Second Survey

A look ahead to the 60-Second Survey topics includes class-scheduling practices in September, a hodgepodge catch-all of single questions submitted by members in November and, in January of 2017, a records management practice focus to support two of our members’ AACRAO annual conference session. If you have questions you would like considered for the hodgepodge edition, please let me know soon. Current topics on the list for that survey are as follows:

  • Acceptance of three-year degrees
  • Threshold for holding transcripts
  • Where are transcripts going – employers, students, institutions
  • Course placement practice
  • Recording last day of attendance
  • Drop for non-payment and the threshold for doing so
  • Separate-level transcripts
  • Use of a ‘shadow term’ where the grades earned are not calculated in the GPA and how is SAP related to this

Chief Admissions Officer Career Profile

The third focus area in our career profile series is the chief admissions officer position. We will distribute this survey in October to members and non-members who are responsible for the admission of undergraduate and/or graduate students. Survey participants may also be responsible for recruitment and for scholarship administration or similar functions.

Dual Enrollment in the Context of SEM

The report underwritten by Hobsons and based on the institutional-level surveys and interviews is well under way and will be emailed to the AACRAO membership at the start of the SEM conference. There will also be a session at the SEM conference. If you are attending, I’d like to invite you to this session and to perhaps share your institution’s experiences with dual enrollment in the context of SEM. Here is a sneak peek at some of the key findings:

  • Dual enrollment is widely available and accepted. During the 2015-16 academic year, most (78%) institutions in this sample offered dual enrollment options;
  • Eighty-six percent accept dual enrollment credit in transfer;
  • Lower division only, and/or large and/or public institutions are more likely to offer dual enrollment programs and courses than institutions with other characteristics;
  • Fifty-nine percent have incorported dual enrollment as a strategic enrollment initiative;
  • One-quarter of participating institutions awarded at least one associate’s degree to high school students during the 2015-16 academic year;
  • Fifty-eight percent discounted tuition for dual enrollment, and two-thirds of those do so by more than 50%;
  • Among those institutions that do not offer dual enrollment, institutional culture is the most cited reason for not doing so; and
  • Nearly all (93%)accept AP and/or IB credits.

Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

Two-year Enrollment After Bachelor’s Degree

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center recently released a snapshot report highlighting the trend in the percentage of bachelor’s degree holders re-enrolling at a two-year institution. During the recession (2008-2009) 7.6% re-enrolled. That percentage dropped to 5.8% for 2013-2014.

Nudging for Success: Breaking Behavior Barriers to Higher Education

ideas42, with support from both the Lumina Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, spent the last two years working on dozens of projects with several institutions in the United States, with the goal of using behavioral science-based interventions to help remove some of the “hidden challenges” of obtaining a college degree from pre-admission to loan repayment. Several institutions saw positive results. Arizona State University, for example, saw a 72% increase in the percentage of returning student FAFSA filers applying by the priority deadline, further resulting in an increase of $263-643 in scholarships or grants per student. This was accomplished simply by using targeted and repeated emails to both the students and, in one group, the parents as well.

Out of Reach: How a Shared Definition of College Affordability Exposes a Crisis for Low-Income Students

Demos, a public policy organization focused on social, economic and political equity, released a report in July 2016 pertaining to our understanding of college affordability for low-income students. The report defines college affordability as whether “a student can meet the total net price through 10 hours of work per week and 10 percent of a family’s discretionary income over 10 years”— otherwise defined by a group of experts convened by the Lumina Foundation, as the Rule of 10. Results found that no state can argue, with confidence, that their institutions are “affordable” under the Rule of 10.

The Evolving Role of Faculty in Student Success

The Education Advisory Board released a white paper based on interviews with 120 higher education leaders on faculty engagement and student success. Their analysis of these interviews suggests among other findings that “most top-down student success initiatives” will not work without faculty engagement. Further, more than three-quarters of institutions in the United States have an early warning system, but they are underutilized.

Where Does Your Freshman Class Come From?

The Chronicle of Higher Education released an interactive map highlighting state-level data on where college freshman choose to enroll. This map is based on IPEDS data and some institutionally corrected data.

Undergraduates Who Do Not Apply for Financial Aid

The National Center for Education Statistics recently released a report based on 2011-12 data, which detailed that one in five students do not apply for financial aid. The study also filtered for institution type and found that students attending public, two-year institutions were most likely to not apply for any type of aid (30%), followed by public, four-year (18 percent), private, non-profit, four-year (11%), and private, for-profit (5%) (Figure 1). The study found that the most frequently cited reasons for not applying were “they could afford college without aid” and they “thought they were ineligible”. Ten percent of undergraduates who did not apply for federal aid either applied for and/or were awarded non-federal student aid.

Figure 1: Financial Aid Application: Percentage distribution of undergraduates’ financial aid application status, by type of institutions: 2011-2012



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