For Immediate Release             

Contacts: 

Carrie Wofford, President | carrie@vetsedsuccess.org (202) 422-6338

Walter Ochinko, Research Director | walter@vetsedsuccess.org (202) 657-1254

Veterans Education Success Releases New Reports on the Use, Return-on-Investment, and Administration of VA Education Benefit Programs

New Data on Veteran Student Loan Debt and GI Bill Expenditures, Student Outcomes at Trade Schools, and the History and Efficacy of “Letters of Credit” at the Education Department and the “85-15 Rule” at VA 

Washington, D.C. – Veterans Education Success released two new Factsheets:

  • “Annual and Cumulative Student Loan Debt Among Veterans Using and Not Using GI Bill Benefits” found here; and
  • “GI Bill Payments and Enrollment for Fiscal Years 2009 to 2018” found here

Veterans Education Success also released three new Issue Briefs:

  • “Congress Should Consider Authorizing VA to Require Letters of Credit from Schools in order to Mitigate Risks to Veterans and Taxpayers” found here;
  • “The 85-15 Rule and Related GI Bill Safeguards” found here; and
  • “Weak Return on Investment at Trade Schools that Enroll GI Bill Students” found here

The first factsheet, Annual and Cumulative Student Loan Debt Among Veterans Using and Not Using GI Bill Benefits, analyzes data from the U.S. Education Department (ED) National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, which cross-walked data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to determine veteran student loan borrowing in academic year 2015-16. Our analysis further breaks down the data among student veterans who received GI Bill educational benefits, as compared to those who did not, and cumulative debt among graduates vs. one-year borrowing among undergraduates. Sector-level disparity proved the most significant.

The second factsheet, GI Bill Payments and Enrollment for Fiscal Years 2009 to 2018, shows the exponential growth in GI Bill expenditures by VA since August 2009, the launch of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Total expenditures across all VA education benefits were $105 billion between fiscal years 2009 to 2018, with the Post-9/11 GI Bill dwarfing all other GI Bills in both popularity and total expenditures.    

“While our analysis shows the GI Bill remains a popular program for veterans and eligible family members, the extent of GI Bill beneficiaries student loan borrowing should raise questions as to whether they are making financially sound choices about where to attend school,” said Carrie Walter, President at Veterans Education Success. 

Veterans Education Success also released three Issue Briefs to educate policymakers and our partners about the efficacy of safeguards at VA and ED. 

The first Issue Brief, Congress Should Consider Authorizing VA to Require Letters of Credit from Schools in order to Mitigate Risks to Veterans and Taxpayers, examines EDs authority to require Title IV participating schools to submit Letters of Credit (LOC) in order to protect taxpayer funds when colleges close, by offsetting the cost of student loan forgiveness. Currently, VA lacks the authority to require LOCs from schools eligible to enroll GI Bill beneficiaries, and taxpayers must foot the bill for any GI Bill restoration for veterans whose school closes.  

The second Issue Brief, The 85-15 Rule and Related GI Bill Safeguards, seeks to clarify and inform that national discourse on the “85-15 rule,” which is often misconstrued with the “90-10 rule” in higher education, by outlining its history and application for today’s GI Bill students, including the Supreme Court case upholding it. The “85-15 rule,” which is a cap on the percentage of veterans allowed to enroll in approved courses, and has evolved over time, remains an important safeguard against programs that target GI Bill students.

The third Issue Brief, Weak Return on Investment at Trade Schools that Enroll GI Bill Students, exposes the poor return on investment at trade schools that enroll GI Bill students using data collected by ED from Title IV participating schools. This weak return on investment comes despite high retention and graduation rates. For example, 70 percent of students graduated at trade schools that enrolled GI Bill students, but fewer than half earned more than a high school graduate 10 years after graduating.   

“These Issue Briefs bring a spotlight to challenges and concerns that otherwise would have remained hidden,” said Carrie Wofford. “These are part of our continued effort to inform policymakers and our partners with non-partisan research to consider new policies to improve outcomes for military-connected students.”

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About Veterans Education Success

Veterans Education Success is a veteran advocacy organization whose mission is to advance higher education success for veterans, service members, and military families, and to protect the integrity and promise of the GI Bill and other federal education programs. The organization offers free legal services, advice, and college and career counseling to servicemembers, veterans, their survivors, and families using federal education benefits, and helps them participate in their democracy by engaging with policymakers. Veterans Education Success also provides policy expertise to federal and state policymakers, and conducts non-partisan research on issues of concern to student veterans, including student outcomes and debt levels. Additional information is available at www.vetsedsuccess.org.