September 30, 2022

GI bill fix would make financial reporting rules easier for colleges

Colleges and universities struggling to meet the GI Bill’s new benefit reporting requirements would get relief under a bipartisan measure introduced in the House and Senate this week.

The legislation is considered non-controversial, but could still take months to pass through Congress due to other priorities and the planned summer recess. But supporters said the move was important for lawmakers to complete as soon as possible.

“This bill would streamline the reporting process for colleges and universities to make GI Bill paperwork requirements easier and simpler,” said Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., and a ranking member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, in a statement.

“This will allow schools to focus on ensuring that veteran students receive the education they have acquired without additional red tape.”

Congressional staff didn’t have an estimate of how many veterans could be directly affected by the legislation, but veterans’ advocates say the issues behind the proposals have been painful for many schools lately. month.

In 2021, Veterans Affairs officials updated a series of definitions and accounting methods surrounding Rule 85-15, which requires higher education institutions to receive at least 15% of their revenue from non-governmental sources.

Student Veterans of America officials said the changes resulted in a significant increase in reporting — “hundreds of hours of extra work” — as administrators reviewed the details of each field of study and program of study to ensure compliance.

“The potential and unintended consequences of new requirements to limit veteran students’ access to quality institutions cannot be overstated,” said Lauren Augustine, vice president of government affairs for SVA.

The changes would simplify the rules, ensuring that schools – especially establishments with limited staff and few alumni – can check eligibility without overwhelming administrative effort.

“The 85-15 rule is an important safeguard to protect students and their educational benefits from fraud and predatory abuse,” said House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano, D-Calif.

“However, for schools with a small population of veteran students, this rule has unintended negative consequences that prevent veteran students from participating in their programs.”

Both Takano and Bost are sponsoring the House bill. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Ranking Member Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, introduced complementary legislation in their chambers.

Congress is currently on a two-week recess for the July 4 recess, but is expected to return to Capitol Hill on July 11.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, DC since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned him numerous accolades, including a 2009 Polk Award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism Award, and the VFW News Media Award.