• Military Servicemembers and Veterans Education

    Federal Policy Priorities

    • Provide full entitled benefits for active-duty military personnel and veterans. 
    • Support continued legislative changes and/or technical corrections to the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 in order to make procedures simpler and more transparent, as well as standardize benefit processing in accordance with accepted higher education practices.
    • Support efforts by the Veterans Administration (VA) and Department of Defense (DOD) to collect and widely disseminate reasonable data on enrollment, year-to-year retention and graduation rates of military and veteran students.

    State Policy Priorities

    • Encourage states to support programs that facilitate veterans’ entry into and success in postsecondary education.

    Summary

    AASCU believes that programs such as the Centers of Excellence for Veteran Success, authorized under the Higher Education Act (HEA), would promote veterans success in postsecondary education. Congress has been especially interested in veterans’ success in postsecondary education. Currently Congress is debating several pieces of legislation that would expand disclosure and data collection as well as provide veterans additional information to inform decisions regarding enrollment in a higher education institution. Both the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees have passed legislation that would dramatically increase reporting requirements related to veterans. AASCU believes that veterans currently have an abundance of consumer data available to inform their decisions, but recognizes that this data can be presented in a more consumer-friendly manner. In their deliberations, legislators should factor in the data-intensive reporting burdens that continue to be placed on institutions—which become unfunded mandates in a time of rising college costs. AASCU is committed to assisting returning veterans and is doing its best to work with Congress and the VA to give veterans the tools they need to make informed decisions.

    AASCU believes that veteran students should receive their full education benefit entitlement for military service, regardless of other forms of financial assistance. No student-reservist should be required to repay any unearned federal student aid received for an academic term in which they are called to active duty. Efforts should be made by the federal government to reduce administrative burden on institutions. There should be continued collaboration with appropriate stakeholders to attempt to mitigate confusion for veteran students.

    Specifically, the VA is reducing a student veteran’s educational benefit by any debt owed by the veteran to the VA. This reduces the amount that both the institution and the student expected in covering the cost of attendance. This policy requires the institution to recoup the funds from the veteran student and shifts the debt collection role from the VA to the institution.

    Furthermore, AASCU supports transparency of VA veteran benefit and student data, and encourages the sharing of the data with appropriate stakeholders in order to assist higher education institutions, the VA, and DOD in determining better ways to serve veteran students as well as aid in program accountability. AASCU supports VA or congressional efforts to allow school-certifying officials with appropriate, secured access to VA data systems containing timely information on veteran students’ remaining education benefit eligibility. Institutions need limited access to this data in order to better process veteran students’ benefit paperwork.

    Tuition and fee benefit payments provided by the VA pay for the cost of veteran students’ education—similar to all other students’ tuition and fee payments. These funds should not be considered as payment for additional veterans’ services, such as counseling or health care. Institutions make every effort to provide these services, as appropriate; however, these should not be expected as a result of the receipt of VA educational payments.

    Finally, unused veterans’ educational benefits should be refunded in accordance with existing higher education practices. National survey data from 2012 indicate that approximately 82 percent of responding campuses had already established refund policies for military activations and deployments. AASCU, therefore, discourages attempts to impose separate institutional refund policies for veteran and active-duty military students.

    Other Federal Policy Recommendations
    Benchmark Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) benefits (pre-9/11 G.I. Bill) to the cost of attendance at public four-year institutions for those servicemembers who served prior to September 11, 2001. Service members eligible under the current MGIB who served on or after September 11, 2001 will have an irrevocable decision point to choose between either set of benefits.

    Advocate for more advantageous tuition rates for MGIB Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) (Chapter 1606) benefits; also advocate for portability equity for MGIB-SR benefits earned during mobilization for a period of 10 years after leaving service (equal to MGIB Active Duty portability rates).

    Support ROTC programs on campus that allow students to develop both academic and leadership skills in the service of their country.

     

     

POLICY & ADVOCACY