The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs recently cleared S.745, legislation that would allow veterans at private colleges in seven states to complete their academic programs without seeing their benefit reduced when New GI Bill 2.0 takes effect this August. The House companion bill, H.R.1383, already passed the lower chamber by a 389-0 vote. Now, the Senate needs to demonstrate its support for student veterans across the nation.
S.745 is a significant and important step in the right direction and IAVA supports its passage. However, the bill does not address all GI Bill issues and IAVA calls upon Congress to fix the legislation's shortcomings:
- First, the bill’s inclusion date of January 4th, 2011, leaves out all veterans that started college in the spring 2011 semester. This defeats the spirit of the bill and excludes new group of veterans.
- Second, the bill excludes student veterans paying out of state rates at public institutions and veterans enrolled in high-fee programs. From the day the New GI Bill 2.0 was introduced in Congress, IAVA advocated to grandfather in all veterans that would be negatively impacted by it.
- Third, the bill does not include grandfathering in or reinstating interval pay to provide veterans with a housing allowance over breaks and help veterans complete unpaid internships.
Congress got it right by implementing several of IAVA’s recommendations into the New GI Bill 2.0 - specifically, increasing stipends, including distance learners, expanding the benefit to National Guardsmen, and streamlining and simplifying benefit calculations.
However, Congress left out other important provisions that IAVA advocated for such as a higher national baseline for private institutions, “grandfather” clauses for everybody and preserving interval pay. Now, Congress needs to correct its mistakes and show that it has all student veterans’ backs.
IAVA will keep fighting until all shortcomings are fixed. We are working hard toward the long term goal of a World War II-style GI Bill that pays for every veterans’ undergraduate degree, regardless of school or college.