This research brief describes work documented in An Assessment of Recent Proposals to Improve the Montgomery GI Bill (DB-301-OSD/FRP).

Excerpt: Faced with recruiting and retention problems, Congress introduced four different bills in early 1999 seeking to enhance the Montgomery GI Bill program. To help inform this policy debate, researchers from RAND's National Defense Research Institute analyzed key features of these bills — features that may appear in future proposals as well — to assess their likely impact. The researchers found that while most proposed changes would improve overall recruiting, some could actuallycreate a recruiting problem by reducing the military's ability to channel high-quality recruits to hard-to-fill skill areas. The total cost of the proposals is likely to be much higher than for the current program, even where the increase in benefits seems modest. The proposals eliminate a current requirement that service members contribute to the benefit, which offsets the total cost. Keeping the member contribution would reduce the cost of improving benefits. Expanding and refining programs that allow recruits to attend college before enlisting also presents a viable option. At their best, such "college-first" programs can improve recruiting, retention, and productivity in the enlisted force. The Army has just announced a major test of the college-first option, and the Navy has been developing its own college-first program, called Navy "Tech-Prep."

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