Nov 5 2015

Today, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis, Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (SVAC), and SVAC Ranking Member Richard Blumenthal (D-C.T.) joined with Representatives Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) to introduce bipartisan legislation in the Senate and House that would provide relief for veterans’ whose education benefits through the Post-9/11 GI Bill are affected by the permanent closure of certain educational institutions. Earlier this year, the abrupt closing of for-profit institution Corinthian Colleges, Inc. left more than 400 veterans who were attending a Corinthian school stranded without a degree or any benefits for school, housing, and other basic necessities. The Veterans Education Relief and Reinstatement Act (VERRA) would expand the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) authority to restore the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits of veterans who are affected by the permanent closure of Corinthian or other institutions. Currently, VA cannot fully restore a veterans’ benefits if a school they attend permanently closes.

“I am pleased to co-sponsor the Veterans Education Relief and Reinstatement Act, which ensures veterans will not lose their well-deserved educational benefits that are threatened by factors outside of their control,” said Senator Tillis. “This is yet another example of Democrats and Republicans on the Veterans Affairs Committee coming together to push commonsense legislation that will benefit veterans looking to further their education.”

“The pernicious, predatory exploitation of our veterans by for-profit schools is a truly egregious problem that must be stopped,” said Senator Blumenthal. “This critical measure provides peace of mind to our veterans that they will not suffer the loss of educational opportunities they earned simply because the institution they attend closes. The Post-9/11 GI Bill is fueling economic growth and opportunity in the same way the original GI Bill did generations ago. We must protect this program, and ensure that our veterans have access to good, quality education as they return to civilian life.”

When schools abruptly close, like Corinthian Colleges earlier this year, they often leave student veterans with incomplete and non-transferable credits, or a loss of training time, and cuts them off from housing and food benefits,” said Congressman Takano. “The men and women who served this country should not have to bear this burden. They deserve a second chance at the education they need to advance their careers and achieve financial stability.”
“As a veteran, I take great pride in supporting my fellow veterans and their families,” said Congressman Gibson. “The Veterans Education Relief and Restoration Act is just one of the many ways we are working to ensure our Veterans can continue their education and have a smooth transition to civilian life.”
This Senate bill is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). The House companion is cosponsored by Representatives Mike Coffman (R-CO-6) and Mark Takai (D-HI-1). The legislation is supported by the Student Veterans of America, Veterans Education Success, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Specifically, VERRA would provide VA with the authority to:

  • Restore entitlement for individuals, including student veterans affected by the Corinthian collapse, who pursued a program of education with VA educational assistance and failed to receive credit – or lost training time – toward completion of the individual’s educational, professional, or vocational objective as a result of the closure of their educational institution.
  • Continue monthly educational assistance payments – including housing allowance – through the end of the term, quarter, or semester in which the school closes, or up to four months from the date of the school closure, whatever is sooner. These extensions would be without charge to entitlement.
Full bill text can be viewed here.