In October, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register that would amend its definition of the term "supported student" for the purposes of the 85/15 rule to include any student who receives any institutional financial aid.
Congress recently passed legislation in August, the Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act, which exempts institutions that have veteran populations below 35 percent and the majority of their programs approved under section 3672 or 3675 of Chapter 38 from all 85/15 requirements including reporting, computing, monitoring, and complying with 85/15 ratios. Therefore, the new supported student definition would not apply to colleges and universities with a 35 percent exemption.
However, the NPRM unfortunately fails to include, in either its preamble or proposed regulatory text, any reference to the 35 percent exemption. AACRAO joined nine other higher education associations in comments to the VA regarding the proposed rule, urging the agency to clarify that its requirements, including the new definition of a supported student, do not apply to institutions that qualify for the 35 percent exemption.
"Given Congress' recent passage of this law, we do not believe that VA intends for its proposed rule to apply to institutions with a 35 percent exemption," the groups state in the comments. "However, without further clarity on this point, officials at traditional colleges and universities may mistakenly believe the proposed rule applies to their institution when, in fact, it does not."
Comments on Proposed Changes to 85/15 Rule