NAU veteran population stays stagnant while UA, ASU see large increases
By Caleb McClure
Veteran enrollment at the Flagstaff Mountain Campus can’t compete with Arizona’s top universities
Northern Arizona University (NAU) has been struggling with veteran enrollment compared to other in-state universities. According to Phoenix Business Journal, veteran enrollment at ASU increased 83 percent and UA increased 163 percent from spring 2009 to spring 2011, while NAU’s veteran enrollment remained stagnant at that time.
“It’s going to take a few years to get to those numbers,” said Todd Carlson, program coordinator senior for NAU Veteran affairs.
Currently there are more than 1,000 military-affiliated students out of 23,600 total students studying at NAU, approximately one hundred of whom enrolled in the past year.
The slow state of veteran enrollment is due to Flagstaff’s smaller population in comparison to Tucson and Phoenix.
“It’s all about population,” Carlson said.
Many of the military-affiliated students chose to stay in their hometowns once they begin their higher education or leave the service.
“My parents live in town and I have two small children, so they help watch my children while I go to school,” said Amanda Bowers, Student Veterans of America President.
In the past two years, there has been a surge to improve the enrollment numbers for veterans.
“It was a focus of President Haegar and he realized there was a need to make NAU more military friendly,” Carlson said. “We’ve invested in our military students and it’s definitely starting to show dividends.”
Some of the investments being made are an increase in military recruiter affiliated students in cities with more military focused areas like Colorado Springs and San Diego, as well as improvements in veteran services on campus.
There are some benefits NAU has over the other two universities for veterans, however.
“[NAU is] going to be more attractive for the programs NAU is more known for; our forestry program is really popular with our veterans,” Carlson said.
The laid-back Flagstaff mountain vibe, witch attracts so many students here, will also be a factor in attracting military-affiliated students to NAU’s growing population.
Despite a lower population, NAU is continuing to attempt to attract veterans to the school.