NAICU Washington Update

What's New with the Post-9/11 GI Bill

February 23, 2009

Here's a brief recap of developments on the Veterans Administration (V.A.) implementation of the new GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program since our last report on both in the January 16 Week in Review

Yellow Ribbon Survey Due February 27

In a January 12 letter, the V.A. requested that institutions that anticipate participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program complete a survey and submit it by February 27. (The survey is on the last page of the January 12 letter.)

The purpose of the survey is to provide the V.A. with a general sense of the level of participation to expect. This survey is not a formal program agreement -- nor is February 27 a final deadline for an institution to sign up for the program.  An institution can participate in the program even if it fails to return the survey by February 27.

Current plans call for the V.A. to publish a list of interested institutions on its Web site on April 1.  This is to give eligible veterans a better idea of the options they might have.  However, given that publishing a preliminary list might cause confusion, they may reconsider their plans.

NAICU Comments on the Proposed Regulations

NAICU submitted a letter with comments on the proposed regulations implementing the new post-9/11 GI Bill program, focusing on questions related to the Yellow Ribbon program.  The overarching theme of the comments was to urge the V.A. to be as flexible as possible-particularly during the first year of operation, in order to see what's going to work best for veterans. The letter also:

  • Requests clarification as to whether an institution could have multiple Yellow Ribbon agreements (e.g., only undergraduate or only graduate students, only specific schools or programs.)  This question was raised with Keith Wilson at the NAICU Annual Meeting, and he indicated that the issue has not yet been decided.
  • Requests clarification on the length of the agreement, which is not specified in the regulations, and requests the ability to amend an agreement during the year to include additional veterans. 
  • Requests clarification of the length of an agreement as it pertains to a specific individual, as the proposed regulations and the January 12 letter differ on this point. 
  • Suggests dropping the requirement that the match be in the "form of a waiver," because it is confusing and potentially too limiting. The purpose of the requirement -- to prevent serving only a specific "slice" of the veteran population -- should be accomplished through the "first-come, first-served" requirement.
  • Suggests that, to avoid confusion and misunderstanding, a list of participating institutions not be posted on the V.A. Web site until the institutions have signed formal agreements.

NAICU Annual Meeting Highlights Yellow Ribbon Program

Keith Wilson, Director of the V. A. Education Service, discussed the new Post-9/11 GI Bill at a plenary session, indicating there were several issues still to be resolved.  (View his presentation on line.) He also addressed an article that appeared in Stars and Stripes in which he speculated that the economic situation might lead to limited private school participation in the Yellow Ribbon program (also see NAICU President David Warren's response to the article).  At the Annual Meeting Wilson indicated that it was premature to reach such a conclusion given that final regulations have not yet been published.  

Meeting attendees also heard from James Wright, president of Dartmouth College, who has been actively engaged with veterans' education and was instrumental in making the Yellow Ribbon program a part of the new post-9/11 GI Bill.  In addition, former Senator John Warner (R-Va.) received the NAICU Award for Advocacy of Independent Higher Education.  Warner, who championed the Yellow Ribbon provisions, made a moving presentation about the difference the original GI Bill had made in his own career, and about the need to assure that the full range of educational options are made available to today's veterans.

V.A. Publishes Tentative List of In-state Tuition and Fees

The V.A. has posted its preliminary state-by-state list of "highest" tuition and fee amounts for undergraduates attending public institutions.  These figures are particularly important to institutions interested in participating in the Yellow Ribbon program, as they are needed to calculate the "gap" to which the Yellow Ribbon match would apply.  There are a number of questions about these figures, and NAICU and other higher education associations are seeking clarification. Stay tuned!

College Sign-ups Have Begun

In recent days we've noted a number of news stories on private colleges that are already committing to -- and are promoting -- their participation in the Yellow Ribbon program.  Links to these news stories are updated regularly, and are available in the NAICU GI Bill Web section.


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