09.29.16

Peters Cosponsors Bill to Help Veterans Harmed by For-Profit School Closings

WASHINGTON, DC– U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today announced that he has cosponsored bipartisan legislation that would provide relief for veterans whose Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits are affected by the permanent closure of for-profit schools. The Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Education Relief and Restoration Act would reinstate GI Bill entitlement for veterans who lose college credits due to permanent closure of the educational institution. Recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) found that over 6,800 veterans using their GI Bill benefits were enrolled in various programs at for-profit ITT Technical Institutes, which operated five campuses in Michigan before suddenly ceasing operations on September 6.

 

“We must always take care of our nation’s veterans as they return home from service and transition into civilian life, and this includes supporting their educational goals,”said Senator Peters, a former Lt. Commander in the Navy Reserve. “I am proud to cosponsor this common-sense legislation that ensures veterans pursuing higher education can continue to use the benefits they have earned through their service even if the school they attend closes through no fault of their own.”

 

Servicemembers and veterans often find themselves the targets of aggressive recruiting from for-profit schools, which together enroll approximately 10% of all college students but account for a disproportionate amount of student loan defaults. When for-profit schools abruptly close, they can leave student veterans with incomplete credits that do not transfer to other schools and without access to crucial benefits for housing or food. Although veterans typically receive up to 36 months of educational benefits through the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the VA currently cannot fully restore a veteran’s benefits if the school they attend permanently closes.

 

This Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Education Relief and Restoration Act would:

  • ·         Restore entitlement for individuals pursuing a program of education with VA educational assistance and failed to receive credit, or lost training time, toward degree completion or certification as a result of the permanent closure of the educational institution.
  • ·         Continue monthly educational payments, including GI Bill housing stipends, through the end of the term or semester in which the school closes, or up to four months from the date of school closure, without charging against an individual’s GI Bill entitlement.

The bill is supported by a broad group of veterans’ organizations, including Student Veterans of America, Veterans Education Success, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

 

Last year, Peters introduced the Military and Veterans Education Protection Act of 2015 to close a loophole that allows for-profit schools to exploit veteran educational benefits and tuition assistance. Under current law, for-profit schools must follow the “90-10 rule,” which requires them to obtain at least 10 percent of their revenues from sources other than taxpayers. However, current law leaves open a loophole that allows for-profit institutions to count military and veteran educational assistance, including tuition assistance and Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits, as non-federal revenues.