GI Bill Transforms Syracuse’s Veterans Enrollment

University Treasures

The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, known as the GI Bill, offered a college education to millions of returning World War II veterans. The bill supported some 2.3 million students, most of whom would never have been able to attain a college education without it.

Vintage black & white photo showing temporary classrooms behind Crouse College
Photo courtesy of Syracuse University Archives

Syracuse University was both challenged and transformed by the GI Bill. Veterans began enrolling at Syracuse in significant numbers immediately after the war, thanks to the bill. In just four academic years, from 1945-46 to 1948-49, total enrollment went from 5,716 to 19,698. Although still a small university by national standards, Syracuse ranked first in New York State and 17th in the country in veteran enrollment.

The resulting “GI Bulge” called for more housing and classrooms and temporary buildings sprang up all around campus. More than 600 prefab buildings, old barracks, and trailers covered the campus and surrounding areas. Even with these additional buildings, classrooms and housing remained crowded.

This photograph shows temporary classrooms behind Crouse College. Others were constructed near Bowne, Sims, Slocum, and Machinery halls. Temporary housing was inserted wherever the University could find space, from the site of present-day Manley Field House to Drumlins.


Also of InterestLink

  • Veteran Admissions Link

    The support of military-connected scholars is central to the University’s mission, and includes commitments to affordability, academic success, and a comfortable fit within the student body.

  • University ArchivesLink

    The Archives is dedicated to preserving records that document the history, organization, policies, activities, and people of the University, and making those records available to researchers.

  • Office of Veteran and Military AffairsLink

    The Office of Veteran and Military Affairs (OVMA) serves as the university’s single point of entry for all veteran and military related programs and initiatives.