ORLANDO, Fla. - According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, only 27% of veterans can afford to get a bachelor's degree. Organizers at Soldiers to Scholars, a volunteer program at the University of Central Florida, say they have been fighting to change that by paying for veterans' degrees in full.

What You Need To Know

  •  According to information from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, only about 27% of U.S. veterans can afford to get a bachelor's degree

  •  Soldiers to Scholars, a program at the University of Central Florida, gives veterans an opportunity to have their degree paid for in full by volunteering in the community

  • Participants in the program help students safely walk the two miles to and from Eagle's Nest Elementary School in Orlando every day

Five days a week for 180 days a year, veterans participating in Soldiers to Scholars walk almost 4 miles a day to make sure the kids at Eagle's Nest Elementary in Orlando make it to and from school safely.

Program participant Gabriella Isaza said that walking alone can be dangerous for the children — and with busy roads, they have to be extra cautious in making sure their 2-mile walk to school goes smoothly.

Isaza, a Navy veteran, said Soldiers to Scholars has helped her and her fellow veterans not only attend college but make a difference in their community as well.

“We want to make sure that (the students) get safely to their homes, safely to their school,” she said.

Owing more $11,000 after just a few semesters of college, Isaza said she needed some help of her own. That’s when she discovered the program and decided to get her degree, and while she’s at it, help the next generation.

Before even heading out to school, Isaza said veterans in the program make sure the kids have a full belly — supplying them with breakfast before school that they might not otherwise get.

Their mornings always start the same, with kids rushing into the program center, prepared to bargain for as much sugar as they can get. Once properly fed, Isaza said the kids are suited up with reflective jackets and begin their pre-walk traditions.

The Pledge of Allegiance is a staple for the kids that attend Soldiers to Scholars — it is their way of showing appreciation to the veterans who help them daily, Jeffry Pace, a veteran at the program said.

Established in 1994, Soldiers to Scholars organizers say the program has always had the same goal: to help veterans transition to civilian life, while helping the next generation at the same time.