The Department of Veterans Affairs on Thursday updated its online GI Bill Comparison Tool with the goal of improving how former troops estimate their education benefits and explore programs across the country.
The new version features “a more robust GI Bill benefits calculator” and provides “additional information pertinent to the veteran population,” such as identifying schools that have student-veteran groups and those that have agreed to President Obama’s keys to success for helping veterans on campus, according to a VA statement.
Nearly 350,000 individuals have accessed the VA’s GI Bill tool in the past six months, the department said. The top five schools searched by users are American Public University in West Virginia, Harvard University, the University of Texas at Austin, Arizona State and the University of Washington.
A March report from Student Veterans of America said that more than half of U.S. military veterans who had recently used the GI Bill earned a postsecondary degree or certification, suggesting that the education benefits pay off.
The online comparison tool is part of a series of resources the VA has launched in response to Obama’s 2012 executive order directing agencies to implement and promote “principles of excellence” for educational institutions that interact with veterans, active service members and their families.
In January, the department started a new Web site that allows student veterans to report colleges that try to take advantage of them and their educational benefits through tactics such as high-pressure recruiting, false or misleading statements about degree and accreditation programs or promoting costly private loans.