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Voluntary Military Education Programs: Literature, Data Analysis, Outcomes, and Service-Level Differences


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Over the past five years, CNA has conducted studies in support of Department of Defense Voluntary Education, with a specific focus on evaluating Servicemembers' use of the Tuition Assistance (TA) program, their associated educational outcomes, and potential changes to TA policies and practices. This report is a compilation of four CNA studies; it includes Service- and education-sector-level comparisons in student enrollment, cost, TA use, and positive TA outcomes (e.g., attaining a degree or having a high course completion rate). One of our primary findings is that TA users can expect a more successful transition to civilian life, though some of these benefits (e.g., improved employment prospects) can be reaped only with a degree. We also find that, despite the relatively poor outcomes at private for-profit institutions, TA users increasingly enroll in them. Our analysis also reveals which Servicemembers--based on military and demographic characteristics--are most likely to be successful TA users. We identify those subpopulations who are among the Services' more active TA users but also the least likely to experience positive TA outcomes, thus highlighting groups that might benefit from targeted counseling efforts. Finally, we make recommendations to help equalize access to the TA program across the Services and increase all TA users likelihood of completing courses and ultimately attaining degrees.



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