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, the Joyce Foundation, and Veterans Education Success.    

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

This first report from the study, released in February 2024, 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.

A Deeper Look at Veterans’ Outcomes

The second and third reports from this study, released in July 2024, look at how veterans educational and workforce outcomes differ based on the type of institution they attended using PGIB benefits (non-profit, for-profit, public, and public flagship). This release also looks at outcomes for those who did not personally use their PGIB benefits compared to those who did use their benefits.