December 6, 2023


Future Depends on What You Do

Increased Training: VA Could Strengthen Help for Veterans Pursuing STEM Degrees

What GAO Identified

A lot more than 130,000 veterans made use of the Article-9/11 GI Bill to pursue a degree in science, know-how, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) from college yrs 2019 through 2021. About 3,500 veterans also employed the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship application to carry on pursuing these degrees immediately after exhausting their Publish-9/11 GI Bill benefits. The majority of these veterans were pursuing degrees in computer system sciences, wellness professions, or engineering (see figure).

STEM Diploma Programs for Veterans Using Publish-9/11 GI Bill or Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship, Faculty Years 2018-19 by 2020-21

Fig High v01_105326

Scholar veterans pursuing STEM degrees can encounter many issues getting a diploma, in accordance to GAO’s interviews and literature look for. Some of these problems are not exceptional to scholar veterans, such as the rigor and sequence of STEM coursework and balancing teachers with function and household responsibilities. Other troubles are additional particular to veterans. Even though veterans carry strengths, this sort of as self-discipline, some also have bodily or psychological circumstances from their armed service service that can influence their academic development, in accordance to college or university officials GAO interviewed.

The Section of Veterans Affairs (VA) does not obviously talk with veterans about their Rogers STEM scholarship apps or obtain and use details wanted to have an understanding of software denial trends. Especially:

  • Some of VA’s letters to veterans lack clear information about their programs and how to commence. These letters can create confusion for veterans about how to receive the scholarship, according to GAO’s investigation of the letters and interviews with veterans. Without having clearer communication, veterans could not totally realize the program, no matter whether they are qualified for it, or how to use for funds.
  • GAO’s examination of VA knowledge demonstrates that the company denied 63 percent of programs during the first 3 fiscal several years of the software. This assessment also shows that VA denied African American or Black applicants and female applicants at increased rates than White and male applicants. Nevertheless, VA does not collect the info it demands to have an understanding of why it denies additional than half of all applicants. Even further, VA has not still conducted any analyses to understand the disparities in denial costs. Without having additional information selection and assessment, VA is unable to just take knowledgeable methods to greater manage the plan and tackle, as needed, these disparities.

Why GAO Did This Research

Veterans who been given specialized teaching in the army might be effectively-suited to pursuing levels in STEM. To support pay back for these degrees, veterans can use Publish-9/11 GI Invoice added benefits and the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship. The scholarship offers up to 9 months of education gains (not to exceed $30,000) to veterans who implement and qualify. Two laws included provisions for GAO to assessment how these programs support veterans pursuing STEM degrees.

This report examines (1) the extent to which veterans pursue STEM levels employing VA instruction added benefits, (2) issues these veterans encounter in acquiring a STEM degree, and (3) how VA administers the Rogers STEM scholarship. GAO analyzed VA administrative facts and interviewed officers from VA and veterans service companies, as very well as officers and university student veterans at picked faculties. GAO randomly picked 5 schools for interviews from a list of 20 schools with the highest numbers of Rogers STEM scholarship recipients. GAO also reviewed applicable literature and VA documents and procedures.