The House Sub-Committee on Economic Opportunity heard testimony today from representatives from the VA, VFW, The American Legion, IAVA, the National Association of Veteran Program Administrators (NAVPA) and others on what needs to be done to improve and/or fix the current Post-9/11 GI Bill.The main focus of the discussion was House Bill H.R. 5933. This bill mirrors the Senate version of the Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 (a.k.a. “New GI Bill 2.0.”). (Senate bill S.3447)
Like the previous Senate hearings, today’s hearing centered on the major fixes and unintended impacts of the current GI Bill. All the member’s and witnesses support the concept of fixing the GI Bill. However, based on the testimony and committee member’s questions, the big issue moving forward will be how to pay for the changes and make them cost neutral.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America’s Policy Associate, Tim Emery, offered that the ”New GI Bill 2.0″ can be paid for by reducing costs in other areas of the program. For example, Emery testified that basing housing stipend rates on the student’s rate of pursuit (part-time, half-time, and full-time) alone could save over a billion dollars.
Here is a quick list of some proposed changes/fixes:
- Guard members called to active duty since 9–11 by the president or secretary of defense under Title 10, Title 32 and those who serve full-time under the Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) program, would be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
- Post-9/11 GI bill benefits would fully cover tuition and fees for all in-state degree programs including doctorates or graduate degrees.
- Payments to private or non-state colleges would be simplified using a $20,000 cap across all states, which would be adjusted every August 1 to reflect changes in education costs nationwide.
- Online students with better than “half-time” student status could receive 50 percent of the national average monthly living allowance.
- Post-9/11 students on active duty and their enrolled spouses, would qualify for the $1000 annual book stipend.
- Veterans enrolled in a qualified on-the-job (OJT) or apprenticeship training would be paid 100 percent of the applicable living allowance for the first six months, 80 percent for the second six months, 60 percent for the third, 40 percent for the fourth, and 20 percent for any subsequent periods of training.
- GI Bill benefits would be available for veterans seeking vocational training.
The hearings can be viewed on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs website.