GI Bill Update

Posted: April 24, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), the author of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, is attempting to preserve the benefit by proposing new restrictions on tuition payments to for-profit schools. The modern-day GI Bill
has cost more than $17.2 billion in a time of budget cutting, and about 37 percent of the money has gone to for-profit institutions. Some of these schools have been under fire because of a series of investigations that revealed high-pressure and deceptive recruiting practices, and questions about the value of the degrees they confer. Senator Webb worries that the entire GI Bill could be ended as a result of some schools that use questionable recruiting practices while offering a lower-quality education. In a move he says could save the 3-year-old program, Webb introduced a bill 8MAR that would set strict, specific standards for schools to receive both the Post-9/11 GI Bill and military tuition assistance. The Military and Veterans Educational Reform Act of 2012, S.2179, would require schools seeking to receive GI Bill or tuition assistance money to:
 Meet the same federal requirements that apply to receiving Pell Grants and other federal aid. These standards include having an undergraduate dropout rate of no more than 33 percent.
 Disclose graduation rates and default rates on loans.
 Provide support services to students using GI Bill or tuition assistance funds, and one-on-one counseling before enrolling to plan a course of education, if the school has more than 20 such students.
State agencies responsible for screening schools would have to conduct audits, and the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments would have to develop a centralized complaint process to report fraud or misrepresentation. These requirements are similar to regulations proposed by the Defense Department for schools receiving tuition assistance, proposals that received a major push-back from the for-profit school industry. Webb is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s personnel subcommittee and a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, positions that give him an inside position to push his bill. But his power could be waning because he is not running for a second term. By November, he will be a so-called “lame duck” member of Congress with limited powers beyond his personal persuasiveness. His cosponsors are Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; Tom Carper (D-DE); and Claire McCaskill (D-MO); and Scott Brown (R-MA), an Army National Guard officer who serves with Webb on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. [Source: TREA News for the Enlisted 16 Mar 2012 ++]

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