The U.S. Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee on Tuesday advanced Robert Wilkie's nomination to be the permanent head of the department, likely setting up a full chamber vote on his appointment later this month, The Military Times reported.
During his confirmation hearing last month, Wilkie received strong support from most members of the Senate veterans committee. However, several senators still had unanswered questions after that two-hour public interrogation and submitted additional queries to the nominee for additional clarification. The answers to those questions came this week, ahead of the committee vote.
Responding to that series of written questions, which included inquiries about veterans educational issues, Wilkie challenged the current 90/10 rule on for-profit colleges and endorsed the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program as a "powerful incentive for public service," reported Politico
Wilkie stated in written testimony that "there is an argument" for including GI Bill benefits as part of a cap on federal funding that flows to for-profit colleges. The 90/10 rule prohibits for-profit colleges from receiving more than 90 percent of their revenue from federal student aid—but GI Bill benefits do not count toward that limit. Critics of for-profit schools argue that it provides the schools with a financial incentive to aggressively recruit veterans. Wilkie echoed those concerns.
"Under the present structure, some institutions may be marketing to Veterans because the Federal education benefits they receive are treated the same way as private funds in the 90/10 calculation," he said. "I believe institutions should not aggressively recruit Veterans principally because of financial motives."
Wilkie also praised the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which Trump's budget has proposed eliminating. He said that the program "is a powerful incentive for public service and has been a great recruiting program for the DoD. If confirmed, I look forward to reviewing programs such as the PSLF to see if it makes sense at the VA."
The Military Times