Veterans' Education BenefitsComparison of Federal Assistance Awarded to Veteran and Nonveteran Students Gao ID: GAO-02-368 February 28, 2002
The Montgomery GI Bill provides a monthly stipend to pay postsecondary education expenses for veterans and eligible service members. Concerns have been raised about whether GI benefits adequately cover educational costs and whether the receipt of GI benefits affects other federal financial assistance available to postsecondary students under Title IV of the Higher Education Act and the Internal Revenue Code. Under Title IV, GI benefits do not affect the amount of aid veterans receive under the Pell grant and subsidized Stafford loan programs but may affect the amount they receive in unsubsidized loans and through campus-based aid programs. Depending on the program, GI benefits may be considered as another source of financial assistance for students, which may decrease a veteran student's financial need and thus the amount of need-based aid provided. With regard to available federal tax incentives, the receipt of GI benefits does not preclude veterans from claiming such benefits but may affect the amount they would be eligible to claim. On average, veterans and nonveterans with comparable characteristics are awarded similar amounts of federal Title IV aid. When GI benefits are included, the total amount of federal assistance is greater for veterans than it is for nonveterans. Moreover, veterans' total aid, including Pell Grants, Stafford loans, and GI benefits has a lower proportion of loans compared with nonveterans' packages. On average, veteran students received slightly lower average campus-based aid awards than did nonveteran dependent students, but they received more than nonveteran independent students at four-year institutions. The actual amount of HOPE and Lifetime Learning tax credits by veteran and nonveteran students is unknown. However, the amount of tuition and fees paid, amount of GI benefits and grant aid received, and family income and taxes owed will affect the amount of tax credit one may claim.