NAICU Washington Update

House Committee Looking at New Veterans Legislation

March 18, 2022

The House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) held a hearing earlier this week to review draft legislation related to a variety of benefits provided for veterans, with a particular emphasis on the issues they face in education, employment, and housing. 

The hearing also reviewed draft bills that are intended to ensure that institutions of higher education do not take advantage of veterans with their GI bill benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Deputy Inspector General David Case mentioned that the majority of offenders are for-profit unaccredited institutions.  Regardless of this recognition, he indicated that the Office of Inspector General believes it would be beneficial to review all institutions of higher education with a uniform State Approving Agency application, a compliance check with the Department of Education on institutions, and risk-based surveys to look at triggers or flags at institutions that may warrant further investigation to avoid fraud.   

Case did not comment on many of the most problematic provisions of the draft legislation establishing new requirements related to instructional spending limits, graduate earnings, loan payment delinquencies, licensure pass rates, and faculty qualifications.  Representatives of Student Veterans of America and Disabled American Veterans submitted testimony endorsing the intent of the legislation, but suggested it required additional review and discussion to avoid unintended consequences.

While the reset of the 35 percent waiver and 85/15 reporting were not topics on the agenda for the hearing, the higher education community submitted a letter to the committee for the record to officially raise concerns about the confusion related to the implementation of these provisions. In the letter, the higher education community is requesting that the committee clarify the congressional intent of these two provisions, and in its oversight capacity, help the VA avoid unintended consequences for veteran students. 

The letter to HVAC also makes the case that the VA has exceeded its statutory authority in implementing the reset of the 35 percent waiver by asking institutions that qualify for the waiver to submit the 85/15 ratio reporting. Under the 85/15 rule, when the number of students receiving VA assistance makes up less than 35 percent of the total campus population, institutions are eligible for the 35 percent exemption, which makes them exempt from computing and reporting 85/15 ratios to the VA. Most of public and private, nonprofit institutions have student veteran populations that are less, and sometimes significantly less, than 35 percent of the total student population.

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