Where Have All the GI Bill Dollars Gone?: Veteran Usage and Expenditure of the Post 9/11 GI Bill

Abstract

The Post 9/11 GI Bill (PGIB) was one of the largest expansions of financial aid for veterans and their families. However, how veterans use these benefits and the institutions they attend are not well documented. In addition, there is concern about the role of for-profit colleges and whether veterans are getting an adequate return on their educational investment. In this study, I use Army administrative data matched with data from the National Student Clearinghouse to provide descriptive evidence of PGIB usage. I find that women and minorities are much more likely to use the GI Bill; while veterans in combat occupations are less likely. I also find that veterans disproportionately attend for-profit colleges; albeit this trend is decreasing. Using regression analysis, I find that veterans who attend a for-profit college are 9.19 percentage points less likely to graduate with any credential compared to public colleges. Addition of veteran demographics and military experience (particularly AFQT scores) narrows this gap by 10 percent, but cannot explain a graduation differential of 8.76 percentage points. This evidence suggests that for-profit colleges receive a disproportionate amount of PGIB dollars while graduating less veterans.

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