WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, President Trump signed U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) bipartisan legislation to expand educational opportunities for post-9/11 student veterans and provide relief for veterans who attended now failed for-profit colleges into law.
Brown helped secure a provision of the bill that would restore GI 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. The bill also allows veterans to use their GI benefits for life, ending the current 15-year limit imposed on veterans to use the benefits they earned.
“Ohio veterans deserve better than to have the rug pulled out from under them by for-profit colleges,” said Brown. “This bill is an important step towards rectifying the fraudulent practices of these schools and restoring and expanding the GI benefits our veterans have earned. I’m proud of the bipartisan efforts to pass this bill into law, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Veterans’ Committee to continue our important work on behalf of those who served our country.”
The legislation 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 GI 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.
The bill also takes an important step toward fulfilling Brown’s call to secure priority enrollment so veterans, servicemembers and dependents using GI benefits can get into the classes they need to complete their degree in time. This bill ensures that the GI 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 GI 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 GI 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 GI Bill eligibility for reservists undergoing medical care;
- Provides full GI Bill benefits for Purple Heart recipients regardless of length of service; and
- Increases GI Bill payments by $2,300 per year for veterans with less than 12 months of active service.
While Brown applauded the 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.