A new report indicates that more than half of U.S. military veterans who used the GI Bill recently have earned a postsecondary degree or certification, suggesting educational benefits for former service members are paying off.

A job seeker checks his phone outside a veteran-recruiting event in San Diego. (Sam Hodgson/Bloomberg.)

The Student Veterans of America analysis, showed that nearly 52 percent of former troops who used the GI Bill completed their higher-education programs, based on records from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Student Clearinghouse, which tracks postsecondary enrollment and graduation.

“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,” said SVA president Wayne Robinson.

For its study, which was the first of its kind, SVA examined randomly selected records for 1 million GI Bill beneficiaries from 2002 to 2010, representing more than 22 percent of the veteran population that received educational benefits during that period.

The results showed that many veterans take longer than traditional students to graduate, earning their associate degrees within 5.1 years on average and completing bachelor’s programs within 6.3 years on average.

The report said veterans face unique challenges, including deployments, age differences, family responsibilities and full-time employment, that may contribute to their longer completion times.

“The majority of student veterans accessing their GI Bill benefits are completing degrees and showing unparalleled determination to do so, despite many unique barriers,” Robinson said.

The study also showed that many veterans move on to additional higher-education degrees after earning their initial degrees and certifications: More than 31 percent for those who earned vocational certificates, nearly 36 percent for those who finished an associate’s program and about 21 percent for those who obtained a bachelor’s degree.

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