The federal government has spent more than $20 billion helping 817,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan go to college. Yet, nine months after President Obama signed an executive order directing the Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense and the Department of Education to track completion rates, no one knows how many vets actually graduate.

Earlier this month, a partnership was announced between the Department of Veterans Affairs, Student Veterans of America and the National Student Clearinghouse. Together they will research and track student veteran college completion rates, Stars & Stripes reports. The news comes as veterans' advocates worry Congress may cut some post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits as they squabble over the federal budget deficit

"Degrees, certificates of completion, certifications, licensing—that to me is how you measure," U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki told a crowd at the national conference of Student Veterans of America. "Not who goes in the front door, but who completes the program."

The statement mirrors current trends in higher education that include state-based proposals to tie state funding to completion rates.

The Post 9/11 G.I. Bill is a program that cost the federal government $4.65 billion in 2011 alone. By the end of the 15-year program, the total cost is expected to top $90 billion. It covers in-state tuition at public universities or $17,500 per year at private or for-profit schools. Living and materials stipends are also included. Veterans who have served active duty for at least three years since September 2001 are eligible, according to Stars & Stripes.

Initial estimates predict that nearly nine-of-ten student veterans will drop out.

Student veterans also face trouble obtaining in-state tuition rates and other confusion with the GI Bill. Recent federal legislation sailed out of Congress that would create a centralized complaint process to track student issues concerning the GI Bill, USA Today reported, aimed to help ensure veterans complete their degree programs.

Earlier on HuffPost:

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  • Concord University

    A public campus in Athens, West Virginia, Concord University is populated by approximately 2,800 students. Photo Credit: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Concord_University_Marsh_Hall_Bell_Tower.jpg" target="_hplink">CZmarlin, Wikimedia Commons</a>

  • Eastern Kentucky University

    With 16,567 students in 2011, Eastern Kentucky University provides a number of services veterans were looking for, including being under the G.I. Bill cap, being a member of a the Yellow Ribbon program, having relaxed residency and a veterans office. The school also accepts ACE credits and is part of the Veterans Upward Bound program. It's academic help rating sits at four stars, the most a school could receive on this list. It is not, however under $250 per credit. Photo credit: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:University_Building,_Eastern_Kentucky_University.jpg" target="_hplink">Alpha 40475, Wikimedia Commons</a>

  • Rutgers

    New Brunswick, New Jersey's state university falls under the GI Bill cap, is a member of the Yellow Ribbon program, has a veterans office, accepts ACE credits and participates in Veterans Upward Bound. It does not, however, cost less than $250 per credit. It also has stricter residency policies involving in-state tuition charges and a three star rating given to its academic support. Photo credit: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rutgers_Stadium.jpg" target="_hplink">Roman Fuchs, Wikimedia Commons</a>

  • California University of Pennsylvania

    Provides veterans with GI Bill cap privileges, a veterans office, membership in Veterans Upward Bound and the acceptance of ACE credits. The school held a population of approximately 9,400 in 2011. Photo credit: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DUDA.JPG" target="_hplink">Wjmoore17, Wikimedia Common</a>s

  • University of South Florida

    The University of South Florida hit No. 5 on the list with status under the GI Bill cap and the Yellow Ribbon Program. The school also has a veterans office, accepts ACE credits and is keeps the price of a credit below $250. Photo credit: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CBA_Building,_University_of_South_Florida.jpg" target="_hplink">Graciepie01, Wikimedia Commons</a>

  • Arizona State University

    ASU is participates in the Yellow Ribbon program and Veterans Upward Bound. It also has a veterans office on campus. Its student population consists of over 70,000 students. Photo credit: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Asu_campus_1.jpg" target="_hplink">Schwnj, Wikimedia Commons</a>

  • University of Kentucky

    University of Kentucky offers the Yellow Ribbon Program, has relaxed residency, guides students at its veterans office and accepts ACE credits. Photo credit:<a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Memorial_Hall_%28University_of_Kentucky%29.jpg" target="_hplink"> J654567, Wikimedia Commons</a>

  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

    South Dakota School of Mines and Technology was ranked No. 8 on site's list. The school keeps per credit costs under $250, falls under the GI Bill cap and has a veterans office. While the school does not accept ACE credits, it is also part of the Veterans Upward Bound program. Photo credit: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carbonates_exhibit,_Museum_of_Geology,_South_Dakota.jpg" target="_hplink">Tbennert, Wikimedia Commons</a>

  • University of Nebraska at Omaha

    University of Nebraska at Omaha also has a veterans office and keeps per credit rates below $250. The school participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program and accepts ACE credits. Photo credit: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:University_of_Nebraska-Omaha_campus.JPG" target="_hplink">Beatmastermatt, Wikimedia Commons</a>

  • D'Youville College

    New York's D'Youville College is offers the Yellow Ribbon Program, has a veterans office and accepts ACE credits. Photo credit: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DYouvillePorterCampus.JPG" target="_hplink">D-Day, Wikimedia Commons</a>

  • Ohio State University

    Ohio State University has relaxed residency and a veterans office. While it does not keep per credit costs below $250 dollars, it participates in the Yellow Ribbon program and accepts ACE credits. Photo credit: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ohio_State_University-Ohio_Stadium-Rotunda.jpg" target="_hplink">Wallyg, Wikimedia Commons</a>

  • Texas A&M University

    Texas A&M University keeps the cost of credits below $250 per each, offers relaxed residency and accepts ACE credits. While it does not fall under the GI Bill cap, it participates in the Yellow Ribbon program and veterans can seek guidance at the school's veterans office. Photo credit: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AggieBand2.jpg" target="_hplink">Oldag07, Wikimedia Commons</a>

  • Texas State University at San Marcos

    With a student population over 32,000, Texas State University at San Marcos offers nearly all of the credentials veterans were looking for, minus falling under the GI Bill cap and participation in Veterans Upward Bound. Photo credit: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Texas_State_University_at_San_Marcos_sign_IMG_4097.JPG" target="_hplink">Billy Hathorn, Wikimedia Commons</a>

  • University of Arizona

    The University of Arizona offers the Yellow Ribbon Program, has relaxed residency, guides students at its veterans office and accepts ACE credits. Photo credits: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Old_Main,_University_of_Arizona_%283442867531%29.jpg" target="_hplink">Ken Lund, Wikimedia Commons</a>

  • University of Pittsburgh

    Over 35,000 students attend the University of Pittsburgh, where its veteran students will be able to find a veterans office, relaxed residency,, and a school that participates in the Yellow Ribbon program. Photo credit: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:OldEngineeringBuildingPitt.jpg" target="_hplink">TheZachMorrisExperience, Wikimedia Commons</a>