The U.S. House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held a hearing on Wednesday to discuss a number of legislative proposals and other higher education-related issues impact veterans and servicemembers.
Ahead of the hearing, AACRAO joined several other associations in a letter expressing concerns about the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs' (VA) recent 85/15 policy reset and changes in the requirements for the 35 percent exemption.
The 85/15 rule prohibits paying VA benefits to students enrolling in a program when more than 85 percent of the students enrolled in that program are having any portion of their tuition, fees, or other charges paid for them by the school or VA. It aims to combat predatory practices of schools. However, the groups cite concern over recent guidance from the VA on how the rule will be implemented going forward.
Under the 85-15 rule, when the number of students receiving VA assistance makes up less than 35 percent of the total campus population, institutions are eligible for the 35 percent exemption, which makes them exempt from computing and reporting 85-15 ratios to the VA, the letter notes. As part of the 85-15 reset, in October 2020 and again in October 2021, the VA rescinded all 35 percent exemptions currently in effect and required institutions to reapply for the exemption. However, as part of the new application, the VA now requires campuses to provide 85-15 ratios for every program at the institution and to resubmit these calculations every two years. Many campuses and senior veterans' program administrators have expressed confusion with regard to the VA's new requirements, which appear directly at odds with both the regulations and legislative intent.
The groups also call attention to several other challenges resulting from VA's 85-15 reset, including a requirement that institutions perform 85-15 computations at the major, minor and concentration level, new rules regarding students on payment plans, and the new interpretation of what constitutes a "supported student."
The letter urges lawmakers to "carefully examine VA's policies to protect against any unintended consequences and to ensure that VA’s reset is consistent with congressional intent."
U.S. House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity Hearing
Letter to House Veterans' Affairs Committee Regarding the 85/15 Reset