The U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs is expected to mark-up the House-passed Protect the GI Bill Act, H.R. 4625, this Congress. AACRAO sent a letter to committee leaders ahead of the bill's consideration outlining concerns about certain provisions that would be problematic for institutions.
The proposed legislation would require institutions to report veteran enrollment status to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on a monthly basis—a process that would be burdensome for colleges and universities, as the VA-ONCE system does not accept batch data and reporting must be done manually.
"The manual entry related to the compliance elements of the certification process/reporting, as currently imposed by the VA, already presents challenges for institutions," the letter states. "During manual entry, data can be mis-keyed, undermining accuracy. Additionally, institutions offer non-standard enrollment terms, multiple student levels (undergraduate, graduate, professional, etc.), and a large array of scholarships and grants adding layers of complexity to reporting."
AACRAO strongly recommended that lawmakers remove the additional monthly reporting requirement from the proposed bill. The association also urged committee leaders to utilize the legislation to make updating and upgrading the VA-ONCE reporting system a priority to allow institutions to report electronically through batch reporting.
"We truly believe that the best option for veteran verification is for the VA to upgrade technologies and implement an enrollment verification process similar to that of the Department of Education for Title IV compliance," the letter states.
An AACRAO work group, composed of School Certifying Officials (SCOs) from high veteran-serving institutions, released a report in November 2019 evaluating issues, requirements, and student information system (SIS) functionality to facilitate veteran reporting improvement. The work report also includes protocols for data collection and reporting using existing tools while anticipating the future state of the reporting process.
Report recommendations are supported by NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, Student Veterans of America (SVA), Veterans Education Success, along with many SCOs across the country.
AACRAO Letter to Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Regarding the Protect the GI Bill Act