WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine will announce the Servicemember Education Reform and Vocational Enhancement (SERVE) Act of 2013 at veterans events in Winchester and Richmond today.
The SERVE Act, which is a companion to Kaine’s first bill, the Troop Talent Act, will improve the quality of education received by servicemembers and veterans. The legislation will also create pilot programs to facilitate the use of veterans’ education benefits for employment and on-the-job training programs and will require that institutions accepting Veterans Administration (VA) and Department of Defense (DoD) education benefits provide access to academic or career counseling.
“I’m proud to introduce a second piece of legislation that seeks to help veterans transition to the civilian workforce,” said Kaine. “Access to high-quality education and job training is the best tool we can provide to our nation’s veterans as they return home and transition into civilian life. This bill increases minimum standards for programs and institutions accepting VA and DoD education benefits to be consistent with other types of federal tuition assistance, including Pell Grants, Stafford Loans and Perkins Loans. A companion to my first bill, the Troop Talent Act, this bill will also facilitate the use of educational benefits for apprenticeships, vocational, and on-the-job training programs which often get veterans employed faster and at a lower cost.”
The SERVE Act of 2013 will:
Require institutions accepting VA or DoD educational benefits to meet minimum standards by ensuring consistency between federal agencies. Raising the bar on minimum standards that educational institutions must meet ensures servicemembers are getting a quality education.
Improve transparency of education and training programs by requiring institutions to disclose information such as graduation rates, withdrawal policies, and program costs to students and by ensuring programs fully deliver what they advertise.
Require these institutions to provide access to academic and/or career counseling for military and veteran students in hopes of not only improving their chances of graduating, but also helping prepare them for future careers.
Facilitate the use of VA and DoD educational benefits for employment training programs by creating a five-state pilot program. States will be charged with developing best practices needed to ensure that quality employment training, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training programs are eligible for participation in the Post-9/11 GI Bill program.
Require an annual report to relevant Senate and House Committees on which schools and programs veteran and military students are putting their educational benefits toward, the number of complaints received, and recommendations for further legislative action to improve educational outcomes and ensure the greatest return on investment in these federal programs.