Veteran Affairs Committee Advances GI Bill Update

The House Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved a package of legislation to update the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The measure would extend veterans education benefits from the current 15-year window through a veteran's lifetime and restore aid for veterans affected by closures of for-profit colleges, among other provisions.

Lawmakers adopted three amendments to the so-called "forever" GI bill (H.R. 3218), including a substitute amendment from Committee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN), which changed the effective date of certain provisions to ensure the bill did not add to the deficit within five and 10-year windows. Another amendment relates to benefits for veterans affected by the shutdowns of higher education schools, such as was the case with ITT Technical Institute in 2016, to ensure their credits are restored for GI eligibility.

Roe added that for future students, the bill as amended would give back the education entitlement for "the semester that they were enrolled when the school closes, as well as a bridge payment for up to four additional months of living stipends."

Republican leaders aim to move the bill to the full House for consideration later this month.

The legislation received broad praise from members of both parties and veterans' groups at a Monday night hearing, but some called for the bill to do more for veterans affected by the sudden closures of for-profits such as ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges since 2015, Inside Higher Ed reported. The bill's original language restored one semester's worth of benefits for those veterans. A third amendment—introduced by Representatives Mark Takano (D-CA) and Luke Messer (R-IN)—would restore benefits used to earn credits at those institutions that could not be transferred elsewhere. The bill would restore one semester's worth of eligibility for GI Bill benefits for veterans affected by school closures in the future.


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