Last Wednesday, the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs held a committee markup approving legislation that aims to improve the Post-9/11 GI Bill and protect student veterans and their families from schools "seeking to defraud veterans," according to a press release. While AACRAO is generally supportive of the bill's goals, we are concerned that some provisions would be problematic for institutions.
The Protect the GI Bill Act, H.R. 4625, would codify some of the Obama administration's Principles of Excellence for educational institutions receiving funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
- Prior to enrollment, provide students a personalized form covering the total cost of an educational program – Program costs, student debt estimates, and Federal financial aid options upfront,
- Provide educational plans for all military and veteran education beneficiaries,
- Provide accommodations for service members and reservists absent due to service requirements,
- Designate a point of contact for academic and financial advising, and
- Ensure accreditation of all new programs prior to enrolling students.
The bill also includes provisions which seek to end fraudulent and aggressive recruiting techniques and misrepresentation.
More concerning, H.R. 4625 includes language that would:
- Provide more authority to state approving agencies to conduct risk-based oversight (and allows the possibility of disapprovals) of schools under Education Department "Heightened Cash Monitoring" or Title IV provisional status, federal or state punitive action for misconduct or misleading practices, and/or at risk of losing accreditation,
- Change how GI Bill overpayments are reimbursed by requiring institutions to return overpayments directly to VA, instead of sending the payments to students, and
- Mandate monthly enrollment verification in an effort to prevent GI Bill overpayments.
Another bill approved by the committee, the GI Bill Planning Act, H.R. 4162, would set an enrollment sunset date of September 30, 2029 for the Montgomery GI Bill.
Service members and veterans who are currently enrolled in the Montgomery GI Bill will still have access to their benefits after that date, but additional enrollment will end and no new service members will be added, Connecting Vets reported.
U.S. House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Press Release