The number of active-duty service members and veterans utilizing the benefits of attending college on the government’s dime has decreased, according to recent federal fiscal-year data.
Tuition assistance benefits, which is typically a hard-selling military recruitment and retention tool, has not been used by members from all service branches as much as it has in previous fiscal years. Tuition Assistance covers $250 for each semester hour a service members enrolls in.
The number of veterans and active-duty troops using the Post-9/11 GI Bill is even less, decreasing by almost 4 percent, or 34,000 students, according to the Military Times Reboot Camp. This is the most significant drop in the benefit’s almost decade-long history.
According to data from Veteran Affairs, the number of GI Bill users at for-profit colleges and universities dropped by at least 30,000 students between fiscal 2016 and 2017.
The GI Bill covers the costs for textbooks, housing and up to the full cost of tuition and fees at public institutions.
However, with recent changes to both financial assistance programs, those numbers could soon reverse.
President Donald Trump signed a new Forever GI Bill in 2017, which widens the benefit for service members, veterans and their family members. This bill removes the 15-year limit for veterans who were relieved of their duties since Jan. 1, 2013 to use the benefits and restores benefits to victims of sudden school closures.
Students who are victim to school closure would also receive a semester’s worth of reimbursement for those benefitting from the GI Bill who are affected by future school closures in addition to a housing stipend for up to four months.
In 2018, the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps reduced TA regulations for service members to where they can now use the benefit earlier in their careers and sailors can have more funds to put towards college courses each year.