NAICU Washington Update

House Subcommittee Examines Implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill

September 17, 2010

The Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee held a hearing on September 16 to review implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  Witnesses included representatives of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), institutions of higher education, and veterans' service organizations.

VA officials described program participation to date; progress towards the so-called "Long Term Solution" for processing post-9/11 GI Bill claims; and outreach efforts, including NASCAR sponsorship.

Since its initiation on August 1, 2009, the program has provided benefits to approximately 340,000 individuals.  Over the course of the 2009-10 academic year, $1.75 billion was paid to institutions of higher education for tuition and fees covered under the program.  Of this amount, $437 million went to private, not-for-profit institutions, while public institutions received $697 million and for-profit institutions received $618 million.

The witnesses representing higher education and student veteran groups outlined problems with the implementation of the program during its initial year of operation.  The most common issues have been payment and processing delays, as well as difficulties faced by both institutions and students in obtaining guidance from the VA.  Fund return policies and processes were cited as being especially problematic.

Beyond the operational issues, several witnesses spoke on behalf of proposed legislative changes to the program - particularly those in the "Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010" (H.R. 5933).  Of particular interest to independent colleges are provisions that would move from the present state-by-state tuition and fee calculations to a single national figure of $20,000.  (See earlier Washington Update story)

This legislation, introduced by Rep. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho), has 50 cosponsors.  The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee approved similar legislation in July, and there is a strong push underway to enact the legislation yet this year.  The success of that effort will depend in part upon the cost estimate now being developed by the Congressional Budget Office.

MORE News from NAICU