Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education



Major Advisor

Dr. Mike Vetter

Second Advisor

Dr. Grant Smith



According to the United States Congressional Budget Office (2019) nearly $100 billion tax-payer dollars have been spent on education since the passing of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. That is more than the gross domestic product of at least 130 different countries per the latest World Bank’s (2022) rankings. Given the sheer enormity of the figure, one would likely assume that the educational needs of our veterans and their families have been well met if not surpassed. Unfortunately, like many assumptions related to veterans, that would be an inaccurate one. The reality is far more disturbingly elusive than a simple lack of quantifiable data. Higher education as an industry has benefited greatly by the influx of GI Bill revenue but there is little to no evidence to indicate that they have done anything purposeful to ensure the success of student veterans. Even more shocking is the fact that most of the largest benefactors have some of the worst retention and graduation rates within higher education. When examining campus resources designed for marginalized at-risk student groups, there appears to be a disparity between veterans and all others. This study examined the impact of a first-year experience course designed specifically for veterans enrolled at a large flagship state university in the Southeast United States. The retrospective study analyzed secondary data collected over a 10-year period and utilized logistic regression and proportions tests to predict student retention and graduation outcomes. It found that the course did indeed have a significant positive impact on retention but found no significant direct contribution to graduation.