WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) introduced legislation to limit use of GI Bill benefits to accredited educational programs that will provide the required licensure or proper training to pursue employment opportunities. The Career-Ready Student Veterans Act of 2015 would provide stronger consumer protection measures for veterans by prohibiting schools lacking appropriate programmatic accreditation from receiving GI Bill benefits. Veterans would be protected from wasting education benefits on educational programs that will not equip them for employment.
Blumenthal said, “Only accredited school programs should receive GI benefits, because our nation’s heroes deserve the best, not the dregs, of American education. Federal funding for substandard programs is a disservice to veterans as well as taxpayers – and this safeguard is long overdue. Valid, approved education and training are necessary for veterans to have the right credentials required by employers. GI Bill benefits are essential for veterans to advance their skill training and translate their military experience into a civilian career. This bill protects veterans from slick pitches that lure them into squandering GI Bill benefits on worthless degrees from unaccredited education programs – helping them pursue legitimate education and employment opportunities.”
“Our veterans risked their lives to protect our freedoms as Americans. This good-faith policy ensures they earn an education that will help them enter the civilian workforce and provide the opportunity to seek employment that will put them on a path toward a successful career,” said Senator Tillis. “I am proud to work with Senator Blumenthal to ensure GI Bill education benefits are put toward accredited continuing education programs. Our nation’s heroes deserve only the best.”
Currently, some veterans use GI Bill benefits for education programs that do not adequately equip them for employment. Although a school may have institutional accreditation, it may lack appropriate programmatic accreditation or fail to meet state-specific criteria required for certification or licensure. When veterans use GI Bill benefits at unaccredited programs, they may face severely limited employment options or be precluded from job opportunities entirely. The programs at issue primarily include law, teaching, criminal justice, and numerous healthcare degrees, including nursing, psychology, medical assisting, dental assisting and surgical technology.
Joining Blumenthal and Tillis as co-sponsors of the legislation are U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). U.S. Representative Mark Takano (D-Calif.) has introduced companion legislation in the House. This legislation is supported by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the Military Officers Association of American (MOAA), Student Veterans of America (SVA) and Veterans Education Success.
More specifically the Career-Ready Student Veterans Act would:
- Modify the requirements for approval of courses using VA educational assistance by requiring that educational programs meet instructional curriculum licensure or certification requirements of the state.
- Require that programs are approved by the appropriate board or agency in a state if an occupation requires approval or licensure.
- Authorize the VA Secretary to waive this requirement only under limited, clearly defined circumstances.
Full text of the legislation can be viewed here.