NAICU Washington Update

Numerous Changes in Veterans Education Requirements in the Works

September 24, 2021

Rules governing educational programs under the Veteran’s Administration continue to change, creating a steady stream of chaos for institutions seeking to serve military veterans.

In a move that will go into effect on October 1, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is going to “reset” the 35% exemption for institutions under the 85/15 rule. The 85/15 rule prohibits paying VA benefits to students enrolling in a program when more than 85% of the students enrolled in that program are having any portion of their tuition, fees, or other charges paid for them by the institution or the VA.  The exemption allows institutions with less than 35% of its student receiving veterans benefits from having to routinely report their 85/15 calculations to the VA.  

Under the new rule, institutions that currently meet the exemption requirements must reapply for it no later than 30 days after the start of the next regular term and renew it again every two years.  The VA has also revised its criteria for identifying supported and non-supported students for the purpose of making 85/15 calculations.  The most significant revision relates to the use of institutionally-funded payment plans, which will now set rules on the conditions all students on payment plans (not just students who are veterans) must meet in order to not be considered supported students. 

This new development has been in the works for several years, but adds to the confusion for institutions that serve GI Bill recipients and that are also adjusting to changes made by the Isakson-Roe Act and the THRIVE Act, both signed into law earlier this year.  In a continuing effort to push for modifications to these laws, NAICU joined the higher education community in sending a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees, urging prompt action to address concerns regarding the incentive compensation, dual certification, consumer information, and Title IV participation requirements of the new laws.   

The new laws also permitted institutions to seek waivers of the consumer information and Title IV participation requirements.  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) received over 2,700 waiver requests related to the consumer information provisions and about 300 requests related to the Title IV participation requirements.  To date, the VA has not taken final action on these requests. 

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