Late this week, a compromise veterans’ education bill is expected to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Sponsored by Rep. Minnick (D-ID), the bill is an agreement between major veterans’ service organizations and the Veterans Affairs Department on ways to fix, improve or otherwise modify the benefits program that was launched in August 2009.
The changes proposed in the bill would not take effect until 2011.
- Tuition and fee calculations will be simplified so that Veterans Affairs will pay full tuition and full fees for any eligible veteran who is a full-time student at a public college or university. Tuition and fees at private institutions would be capped at $20,000 a year per student.
- Active-duty service members and spouses of active-duty members using transferred benefits would become eligible for the $1,000 book allowance that already goes to other student veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
- Living stipends would be available to people taking distance learning classes without the current requirement that they must take at least one classroom course to qualify.
- Service members transferring GI Bill benefits to a spouse or children would include the right to transfer any so-called “kickers” that increase payments so that family members could use the money.
- For National Guard and reserve members, the bill gives credit for full-time active service in the Active Guard and Reserve program and time mobilized for natural disasters toward earning benefits, service that currently does not count.
- On-the-job training and apprenticeships programs could be covered .
Many of the provisions in the compromise bill are similar to provisions in S. 3447. Senate Bill 3447 is being refined and is expected to be brought to a vote in the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee in early August.
The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, which will receive the compromise bill, has scheduled a hearing on veterans’ education benefits on September 16.