The Facts About Student Veterans

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Student Veteran Facts: Post-9/11 GI Bill  

  • As of September 2015, 72 percent of the veterans who used the bill either earned a degree/certificate or were still enrolled.


Success, Persistence, and Attrition Rates for Veteran Students Using Post-9/11 GI Bill

The bill helped 347,564 veterans earn a higher education certificate or degree. Of these students, 87,018 (25 percent) earned more than one certificate or degree, for a “grand a total of 453,508 post-secondary certificates or degrees that the Post-9/11 GI Bill at least in-part helped to fund.” Within ten years, the authors expect the total number of degrees awarded to reach 1.4 million.

  • More than 63 percent of the degrees were at or above the bachelor’s level. These included 162,567 bachelor’s degrees; 67,928 master’s degrees; 10,369 doctorate or postdoctorate degrees; and 786 certificates, including teacher or counselor certifications.
  • Veterans also earned approximately 101,000 associate’s degrees and 39,000 vocational certificates.
  • Twenty percent of veterans who used the Post-9/11 GI Bill and 23 percent who completed a degree using the bill were female. According to Military One Source, as of 2014, 16.5 percent of the military overall was female.


Veteran Students Tend to be Older 

  • Just 32 percent of student veterans entered college for the first time before the age of nineteen, while approximately 58 percent were twenty-two or older.
  • In public two-year institutions, student veterans tended to be older than the general population of students (as recently reported by the US Department of Education). Thirty-three percent of veteran students were twenty-five or older, while 27 percent of students in the general population were twenty-five or older. However, the opposite was true in private two-year institutions—just 22 percent of student veterans were twenty-five or older, compared to 39 percent of students in the general population.
  • Student veterans tended to be older than the general population in both private and public four-year institutions. In private institutions, 52 percent of veteran students were twenty-five or older, compared to 13 percent of the general population. In public four-year institutions, 30 percent of students were twenty-five or older, compared to 12 percent of the general population.


Veteran Students Take Slightly Longer than Expected to Complete Degrees 

  • As seen in the figure below, the number of veteran students finishing associate’s degrees peaks at six terms, while bachelor’s degree completion peaks at nine to eleven terms. The expected number of terms to completion for these degrees are four and eight, respectively.
  • However, the report notes that it is common for veterans and nonveterans alike to complete associate’s degrees in three years and bachelor’s degrees in five or six years, and it also states that less-than-full-time course loads and noncredit remedial courses may be partial explanations.
  • More than half (54 percent) of student veterans withdrew from at least one course during a term. According to NVEST, “These interruptions or breaks may lead to student veterans needing to enroll in more terms to complete their certificates or degrees, but a majority [52 percent] of student veterans will return and complete their degrees.”



Student veterans heavily favor “Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services majors,” with 27 percent of student veterans earning 96,270 degrees in these fields. According to the report, “It takes the next three [categories of] majors to equal the number of degrees in Business,” including “Health Professions (37,138), Liberal Arts and Sciences (34,812), and Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Firefighting and Related Protective Services (34,199).”



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