Turning Military Student Data into Actionable Information

MHEC’s Multi-State Collaborative on Military Credit

By Sara Appel, MCMC Project Coordinator, Midwestern Higher Education Compact, and Gina Johnson, Strategy Director for IR Capacity Initiatives, AIR

Lead-Map.pngThe United States lacks a clear picture related to the success of military students, including service members, veterans, and their dependents in postsecondary education. Researchers and program administrators need quality data with clear definitions to better understand the landscape and help identify necessary additions and changes to services at postsecondary institutions to ensure military student success. Such data and analyses would allow institutions and systems to answer the following questions:

  • How many military students are completing 2-year and 4-year degrees and in what timeframe?

  • In what majors or areas of concentration are military students seeking degrees?

  • Are military students starting a degree program and stopping out? If so, why? And how can they best be assisted in returning when the time is right?

Currently, collection and use of military student data varies greatly by state. Where data collection is occurring, methods and definitions differ making summary data for the entire country and comparison data difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. These challenges do not differ greatly from those involving the collection and use of success measures for all college students. Efforts to improve data around military students will only improve the data and tracking of all student groups.

MCMC Interstate Partnership of 13* States

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • South Dakota
  • Wisconsin
* Comprised of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact’s (MHEC) 12 member states, plus Kentucky





The Multi-State Collaborative on Military Credit (MCMC), an interstate partnership of 13 states, funded by grants awarded to MHEC, seeks to improve military students’ timely completion of postsecondary credentials by addressing barriers to access, participation, and completion. These goals are accomplished through a comprehensive review and advancement of effective policy and practice within and among institutions, states, federal agencies, and key not-for-profit organizations. Specifically, the MCMC seeks to maximize ways for service members and veterans to transition to college; create models for consistent, transparent, and effective awarding of credit for military training and experience that can be scaled regionally and nationally; establish strong partnerships with institutions and organizations for the purpose of promoting their shared interest in military service member success; and generate a system for documenting and tracking academic progression of military service members at the state level.

The MCMC has four work groups: Articulation of Academic Credit; Communication and Outreach; Data, Technology, and Systems; and Licensure and Certification. Of specific interest to institutional research professionals may be the major goals of the Data, Technology, and Systems work group – to determine the data to be collected and answer the success questions outlined above, as well as set parameters around collection of data. Many of the MCMC collaborative states have appointed AIR members to this work group to assist in determining data definitions and collection cycles as well as appropriate analysis of the data to inform decision making related to military students. One example of data and information already being used by MCMC and its member states is through the review of military separation data to better understand the number of potential veterans that would be returning to their state with a specific military occupation. This information facilitated the exploration of potential bridge or accelerated programs at colleges and universities to provide an efficient pathway for degree attainment for service members and veterans who want to continue their military occupation in the civilian sector.

MHEC’s MCMC program provides one example of how institutions and states are collaborating to improve the postsecondary success of military students. Collaborating across states to identify promising practices in data and information use to improve success for military students is a primary goal of the MCMC program. Collaborating with institutional research professionals allows MCMC to learn from those working within their state or institution to capture and analyze data collected to enhance postsecondary success for military students.

MCMC and AIR are interested in hearing from institutional research professionals who are successfully collecting and using military student data to track progress and measure success of this college student population. If you are interested in sharing your work related to military student success, please contact Gina Johnson at gjohnson@airweb.org. Individuals in one of the 13 MCMC states are also welcome to participate in the Data, Technology, and Systems work group by contacting Sara Appel at saraa@mhec.org.




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