WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced legislation to ensure that veterans, students serving in the armed forces, and their qualifying dependents, can take full advantage of the federal education benefits they have earned for themselves and their families. The Veterans Priority Enrollment Act of 2015 allows veterans using their GI benefits to attain priority enrollment at four-year institutions so that they can finish their degrees before their benefits expire. The bill would not require colleges or universities to change their existing priority enrollment systems. U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan (D-OH-13) and Phil Roe (R-TN-1) will introduce companion legislation in the House.
"I’m proud to join Senator Brown in a bipartisan effort to make sure that when our veterans return home, they have access to the quality college education they deserve through their courageous service to our nation," Tillis said.
"Just as we invest in and train our men and women during their service, we must do so when they return to their communities," Brown said. "This bill would ensure that our nation’s veterans can take full advantage of the college education that they’ve earned."
Because veterans have a limited amount of time before their GI Bill education benefits expire, priority enrollment policies – like those available to student athletes – would ensure veterans can complete their course work before funding runs out. Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, benefits are limited to up to 36 months. If a student veteran is shut out of required course work prior to their benefits expiring he or she may not be able to attain a degree or could be forced to pay tuition and fees out of pocket.