A Study of Post-9/11 GI Bill Student Outcomes

Young adult students in class

The Post-9/11 Veterans’ Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (also known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill or PGIB) represents a significant federal investment: Between 2009 and 2019, nearly $100 billion was budgeted for the program, which provides postsecondary education benefits to veterans and their families. Over that 10-year period, there were 2.7 million enlisted veterans eligible to use PGIB benefits. Yet, despite the program’s size and implications for broader discussions of college access and tuition-free college, there has been no definitive assessment of its outcomes.

Unprecedented interagency sharing of individual-level data has enabled this first in-depth examination of the use and outcomes of PGIB across all military branches. The study links data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Veterans Benefit Administration, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit organization that provides data on enrollment and degree completion for students nationwide.

A research team from AIR—embedded as Special-Sworn-Status employees of the Census Bureau—alongside researchers from the Census Bureau and VA are conducting the assessment with support from Arnold Ventures and Veterans Education Success.    

A First Look at Post-9/11 GI Bill-Eligible Enlisted Veterans' Outcomes

This first report from the study explores the number and characteristics of veterans who used PGIB, the degrees that were obtained by those using the benefits, and their labor market outcomes. It provides data broken down by sex, race, ethnicity, and Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) scores. It covers every enlisted veteran who was eligible for benefits who separated from the military as of June 30, 2018, and was age 65 or younger as of December 31, 2019.

Lessons from Those Who Have Not Yet Used Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits

If you are an eligible veteran who has not yet used or transferred your Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, learn more about how to participate in an interview or focus group.

In order to better understand why some veterans may not be using their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, this study includes both an analysis of the interagency data on the characteristics of veterans who have not yet used or transferred their Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits as well as interviews and focus groups with veterans to identify reasons why veterans may not use the benefits.