Post-9/11 GI Bill: First-Year Progress Report

Progress Report on the Post-9/11 GI Bill

We are one year into the New GI Bill, and while challenges exist, it is serving the education needs of today’s veterans. Student data obtained from a recent report by the American Council on Education (ACE), called “Service Members in School”, and discussions held with military students in college have allowed us to publish the following set of best education practices for veterans using the New GI Bill.

Veterans Have a Value Perspective on Education
When using tuition benefits of the New GI Bill, veterans focus on the location of education and their choice of public or private institution. When making a school selection, veterans most often evaluate degree programs offered and weigh the reputations of schools, programs and faculty. Many veterans choosing 2-year and 4-year public education options find good values in their states of residence and determine that to be the best way to apply the tuition benefits of the New GI Bill.

Veterans Use the Yellow Ribbon Program
Other veterans who decide to attend private, out-of-state or graduate schools, most often use the Yellow Ribbon Program (YRP) of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The YRP influences their decisions to get an education and degree. While veterans understand the benefits of the Yellow Ribbon provision, they also identified a need for more resources to select schools that are putting extra money into this program to increase tuition aid.

Veterans Graduate on Time
According to ACE research, only 64% of Post-9/11 GI Bill beneficiaries who responded to surveys anticipated they could finish their degrees on time. Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, qualified veterans are allowed 36 months to complete their education. To accomplish this, veterans specified that courses must be made available when they need them and cited the importance of receiving academic credit for military service and training. The main two factors that contribute to graduating on time are course availability and course credit.

Because of the size of their student populations, course availability is a larger concern at public universities. Veterans get the courses they need by taking approved classes at accredited schools near their primary institution.

According to an ACE survey, only 47% of veterans who made an attempt to transfer credits were satisfied with the results. Veterans most often receive course credit for degree programs at private schools by finding allies such as academic advisors and professors who advocate on their behalf and initiate appeals. This helps them transfer more course credit and ensures that they will graduate on time.

Veterans Leverage Fringe Benefits
Because tuition is paid for qualified veterans under the New GI Bill; housing allowances, stipends for books and other sources of tuition assistance often cover the remaining costs of their education. According to ACE’s report, veterans consider these fringe benefits to be the most important improvement of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The housing allowance (which averages $1,330 per month) and book stipend that pays up to $1,000 per year, give veterans the opportunity to enroll without needing a job and allows them to attend college as full-time students.

Veterans Avoid Common Pitfalls
Delayed processing of claims and payments, bad record management, lack of support and administrative gridlock have plagued the 1st year of the program. Successful veterans avoided these pitfalls by planning ahead, not making changes to degree or course schedules and accounting for all details of their education. Most problems were resolved by anticipating that they would happen and by keeping receipts, tracking all expenses and writing everything down.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill is not perfect, but administration and policies are improving. It is undeniably generous in education benefits to military veterans and seen as effective in providing post-secondary education. The original GI Bill provided education to 8 million veterans, built higher education as we know it today, paid $7 back for every $1 in public funds that were invested and ushered in economic prosperity for several generations of American families. If today’s veterans would simply use the education benefits that are available to them, there is realistic hope that the Post-9/11 GI Bill will do much the same.

More information is available by contacting
Greg Eisenbarth, Executive Director