MILITARY TIMES: Most popular colleges for TA & GI Bill — latest trends

Career College Central Summary:

  • While veterans and their families continue to flock to the Post-9/11 GI Bill — with use rising 4.7 percent in fiscal 2014 — the number of service members using the tuition assistance benefit, generally intended for those on active duty, appears to have plunged 16 percent.
  • Comparing Defense Department information with prior-year data, all services tallied fewer TA students, with the Army accounting for most of the drop at more than 21 percent.
  • The overall decrease is double the fiscal 2014 decline that DoD reported to colleges and the military services in January.
  • Military Times talked to the colleges that enroll the most TA students. Those schools blame the decline on the varied and complex new restrictions the military branches have added to their TA programs.
  • A total of 294,200 students used TA in fiscal 2014, according to information provided by the Defense Department in response to a Military Times request.
  • Adding in the Coast Guard, tracked separately under the Homeland Security Department, brings the total to just over 298,000, a big drop from fiscal 2013's figure of more than 355,000.
  • For many schools — including some of the biggest TA players — this year's analysis shows drops of 15 percent, 25 percent, 35 percent and more in TA enrollment compared to fiscal 2013.
  • Schools contacted by Military Times confirmed experiencing such drops.
  • "There's no doubt about it, management controls have had a direct impact, because people before who were able to register now can't," said Jim Cronin, the vice president of military partnerships at University of Maryland University College.
  • UMUC, which led the University System of Maryland to being the nation's second-biggest TA institution, experienced a 25 percent drop in its TA student population, according to the fiscal 2014 data provided to Military Times as well as posted on the DoD's new "TA DECIDE" web tool.

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