WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined other members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee today introduced bipartisan legislation to expand educational opportunities for post-9/11 student veterans.
Brown helped secure a provision of the bill that would restore G.I. benefits for veterans who attended ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges, both of which failed and left veterans with meaningless degrees or without a degree to show for their time. Brown has been working to restore benefits for veterans who were defrauded since last year.
“G.I. benefits are there to ensure veterans get the education they deserve, not to pad pockets of for-profit colleges. This bill will make sure that veterans who’ve been defrauded by for-profit colleges don’t get cheated out of their G.I. benefits,” said Brown. “I’m proud to sit on the Veterans’ Committee, which I’ve always said is one of the most bipartisan committees in the Senate. This effort to expand educational opportunities is just one example of the real solutions Republicans and Democrats can come together on to honor our veterans for their service.”
The bill also includes a provision based on Brown’s Yellow Ribbon Improvement Act, cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Tom Tillis (R-NC), to expand eligibility for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Yellow Ribbon Program to spouses and children of servicemembers who died in combat. The Yellow Ribbon Program – which helps students avoid out-of-pocket tuition and fees for education programs that cost more than their post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits – is currently only available to veterans and spouses and children of servicemembers. Brown’s bill would expand Yellow Ribbon to spouses and children of servicemembers who died in combat.
Today’s bill also takes an important step toward fulfilling Brown’s call to secure priority enrollment so veterans, servicemembers and dependents using G.I. benefits can get into the classes they need to complete their degree in time. Today’s bill ensures that the G.I. Bill Comparison Tool lets veterans know which schools offer priority enrollment when they are choosing their school. Brown will continuing working to require priority enrollment at all schools.
In addition to Brown’s provisions, the legislation:
- Eliminates the arbitrary 15-year period within which a veteran can use their G.I. bill benefits. Brown helped pass legislation into law last Congress to extend this time period so veterans and their spouses would have more time to use their educational benefits.
- Provides G.I. Bill eligibility for reservists mobilized under selected reserve orders for preplanned missions in support of the combatant commands or in response to a major disaster or emergency;
- Provides G.I. Bill eligibility for reservists undergoing medical care;
- Provides full G.I. Bill benefits for Purple Heart recipients regardless of length of service; and
- Increases G.I. Bill payments by $2,300 per year for veterans with less than 12 months of active service.
While Brown applauded today’s legislation to expand education opportunities for veterans, he also said more must be done to protect veterans from being abused by fraudulent for-profit colleges. For-profit colleges are incentivized to target veterans, often with deceptive and misleading marketing and recruitment pitches, because of a loophole in federal law that allows them to take advantage of veterans’ education benefits.
Under the 90/10 rule, for-profit education companies can receive no more than 90 percent of their operating revenue from federal student loans and grants. However, U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs education benefits are exempt from this rule. The Senator has cosponsored legislation in the past, including last Congress’s Military and Veterans Education Protection Act – which would close this loophole. He has also legislation which would hold for-profit schools and their executives accountable for misleading students and a bill which would prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars for advertising, marketing, and recruitment – because taxpayer money should be used for educating students, not for producing glossy brochures or television ads.