Over the next several years, the number of service members transitioning from military life to civilian life (as veterans) is expected to increase significantly. A growing number of these veterans will be enrolling at America’s colleges and universities as they seek to become career-ready and improve their future prospects for employment. For these veterans, access to higher education is important, but it is not enough; we must help our veterans obtain a degree, certificate, or license. These credentials are valued by employers and serve as a key milestone to future career success.
America’s colleges and universities play a critical role in ensuring that veterans have access to high-quality educational experiences and postsecondary opportunities. The 8 Keys to Veterans’ Success (8 Keys) highlight specific ways that colleges and universities can support veterans as they pursue their education and employment goals.
The Obama Administration has made veteran educational success a priority. As such, Executive Order 13607, Establishing Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses, and Other Family Members, calls for agencies to work together to ensure that educational institutions effectively serve those who have served our nation. Building on these collaborative efforts, the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Education and Defense have been working collaboratively to identify concrete strategies to aid our veterans and service members in reaching their educational and training goals. A session was held where over 100 participants discussed various approaches that could be scaled and replicated to foster success on campus. This gathering brought together a wide range of stakeholders: government agencies; non-profit organizations, including foundations and veteran service organizations; and, importantly, veterans who had recently completed college degrees in a range of disciplines. During the session and subsequent efforts, we have gleaned – and continue to seek more examples – of many best practices and strategies. From this convening came the 8 Keys.
8 Keys to Veterans’ Success
By affirming support for the 8 Keys to Veterans’ Success, your institution is expressing its commitment to implement the promising practices outlined in the 8 Keys, as follows:
1. Create a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to promote well-being and success for veterans.
2. Ensure consistent and sustained support from campus leadership.
3. Implement an early alert system to ensure all veterans receive academic, career, and financial advice before challenges become overwhelming.
4. Coordinate and centralize campus efforts for all veterans, together with the creation of a designated space for them (even if limited in size).
5. Collaborate with local communities and organizations, including government agencies, to align and coordinate various services for veterans.
6. Utilize a uniform set of data tools to collect and track information on veterans, including demographics, retention, and degree completion.
7. Provide comprehensive professional development for faculty and staff on issues and challenges unique to veterans.
8. Develop systems that ensure sustainability of effective practices for veterans.
The Principles of Excellence
We recommend that your school also become a signatory to the Principles of Excellence program, if you have not already done so. Implemented through a collaboration between the Departments of Defense, Education, and Veterans Affairs (VA), the Principles of Excellence are guidelines for educational institutions receiving funding from the VA. A school that wishes to be recognized as a Principles of Excellence school must email the VA, at email@example.com.
The Principles of Excellence guidelines are as follows:
1. Provide students with a personalized form covering the total cost of an education program.
2. Provide educational plans for all military and Veteran education beneficiaries.
3. End fraudulent and aggressive recruiting techniques and misrepresentations.
4. Accommodate Service members and Reservists absent due to service requirements.
5. Designate a point of contact to provide academic and financial advice.
6. Ensure accreditation of all new programs prior to enrolling students.
7. Align institutional refund policies with those under Title IV, which governs the administration of federal student financial aid programs.
Join the List
To join the list of colleges and universities that are committed to the 8 Keys, your institution’s president or chancellor should address a letter on official letterhead to the Department of Education affirming the institution’s support and commitment to the 8 Keys, as provided in the template affirmation letter below. You may send the letter electronically or send it by mail per the instructions provided on this website.
8 Keys To Veterans' Success Template Affirmation Letter
Should your college or university desire to mail a hard-copy letter, please send the affirmation letter (on official letterhead and signed by your institution’s president or chancellor) to the address below and include on a separate page primary and secondary points of contact (name, email, phone number).
U.S. Department of Education
Office of Innovation and Improvement
Military Affairs Team
400 Maryland Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20202
If you have any questions about the 8 Keys to Veterans’ Success or require additional information, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.