Improvements Needed in Implementation of the Veterans' Educational Assistance Program

HRD-78-148: Published: Nov 30, 1978. Publicly Released: Dec 26, 1978.

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The Post-Vietnam Era Veterans' Educational Assistance Program is a 5-year pilot program designed to promote and assist the all-volunteer armed forces in attracting qualified persons by offering educational assistance to young men and women who might not otherwise be able to afford an education. To be eligible, a service member must elect to participate and agree to contribute between $50 and $75 per month to an education fund. This contribution is matched by $2 for every $1 by the Veterans Administration (VA). Upon completion of his service, the participant becomes eligible for monthly educational assistance payments.

Although the program has been in effect for more than a year, VA and the Department of Defense had not issued comprehensive joint guidelines for implementation and administration of the program. Interim guidelines were issued on a piecemeal basis by the individual services. Information presented to eligible recruits varied among the services and, in some instances, was inconsistent with the law. Two services provided recruits with a scheduled opportunity to make an allotment for the program before their detailed briefing on the program. Some service personnel responsible for program implementation appeared to have a low opinion of the program. Of an arbitrary sample of 2,534 recruits questioned at nine facilities, 512, about 20 percent, indicated that they had enrolled in the program. Forty-eight percent stated that they planned to enroll later; 39 percent stated they had not decided on career goals; 36 percent contended that they could not afford the contributions; and 35 percent stated that they intended to complete their education while in the service.

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