U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and John Boozman (R-AR) recently introduced the Servicemembers Improved Transition through Reforms for Ensuring Progress (SIT-REP) Act, which would prohibit institutions from collecting a late fee or requiring GI Bill users to take out additional loans because of delayed GI Bill payments, among other protections, reported Politico.
The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill provides education benefits, including a monthly living stipend, to over 775,000 student veterans and eligible dependents, according to a press release. Unfortunately, delays in the processing of tuition payments—by unintendedly slow processing by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or errors by school certifying officials—have caused some student veterans to endure financial hardship and be denied access to their education.
Last year, Congress approved the Forever GI Bill, which expanded the popular Post-9/11 GI Bill in several ways, including lifting the 15-year time limit to use the benefit for new enlistees. The implementation of the new provisions will increase eligibility for GI Bill benefits—and may result in a higher volume of claims that must be processed by the VA and institutions.
The proposed legislation aims to ensure that student veterans "have access to the educational resources they deserve."
The House approved similar legislation, H.R. 3023 (115), in May.
Meanwhile, a number of colleges and universities already provide this protection. "We offer priority registration so enrollments can be processed ASAP to help mitigate VA delays," Ted Jimenez, a university official who works on veterans issues at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, told Politico. In addition to preventing service charges, he said that the university advances financial aid payments to those eligible "so they do not have to wait on the VA to pay to get their refunds."
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Press Release