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Federal Educational Assistance Programs Available to Service Members: Program Features and Recommendations for Improved Delivery

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Department of Defense DoD Office for Military Community and Family Policy asked RAND to review federal military educational assistance programs available to active duty and reserve service members develop a holistic system overview identify program outcomes that program managers either currently measure or should be measuring consider benchmarks of success to compare these programs against and make recommendations for improving the way educational benefits for military personnel are managed and used, thereby potentially improving cost efficiencies of programs. It was outside the scope of this study to determine the effectiveness of these programs or to develop a comprehensive research design. While we describe a possible framework for a rigorous outcome evaluation, we have not analyzed any service member outcomes educational, employment, or income to determine whether those who used educational benefits are better off than if they had not had access to the benefits and or better off than those who did not use the benefits. A separate research effort would be required to perform an overall, comprehensive evaluation of educational assistance programs for service members. The research team considered federal education benefits programs available to service members that DoD, the Department of Veterans Affairs VA which manages four programs available to personnel who are still in the military, and the Department of Education ED administer. We reviewed publicly available program information and discussed specific characteristics with program managers. We also reviewed academic literature on both civilian and military education benefit programs to identify common characteristics, performance measures, and outcome measures. The literature suggests that the benefits of educational assistance programs may extend well beyond retention, recruitment, loyalty, and worker productivity, both for civilians and military service members.

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  • Administration and Management
  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Humanities and History

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