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GI Bill study finds 52% graduation rate

WASHINGTON — A little more than half of the veterans who got college money under the GI Bill since 2009 eventually graduated, though many took longer to do it, a new study estimates.

The report released Monday estimated that 51.7 percent of student veterans earned a degree or certificate for some kind of higher education.

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That is slightly lower than the graduation rate for traditional students, who generally enroll out of high school, but higher than for veterans’ nontraditional peers — those students who also tend to be older and have families and jobs.

The study was done by the Student Veterans of America, an advocacy group, with help from the Veterans Affairs Department and the National Student Clearinghouse. Experts on veteran issues say it is the most comprehensive study to date on a sparsely researched subject: how vets are performing under a GI Bill program that has spent nearly $35 billion since 2009.

‘‘Americans have invested substantial dollars in giving our veterans an opportunity to further their education and this report shows many positive signs that they are doing just that,’’ SVA president Wayne Robinson said. ‘‘The majority of student veterans accessing their GI Bill benefits are completing degrees and showing unparalleled determination to do so, despite many unique barriers.’’

The Post-9/11 GI Bill went into effect in 2009 for America’s newest generation of veterans. It provides the most generous educational benefits since the original bill went into effect in 1944 for World War II troops.

The benefit can be used by a veteran or a member of the immediate family, and more than a million people have used it so far. VA pays all tuition and fees for an in-state student at a public university, $1,000 annually for books and supplies, and a housing allowance generally the same as an army sergeant with dependents would get from the Defense Department. This school year the average monthly payment was $1,430.

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