July 13, 2017

Kaine & Tillis Introduce Bipartisan Legislation To Improve Veterans' Education Experience And Outcomes

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced bipartisan legislation that would improve veterans’ experience when using GI Bill education benefits.  The Veterans Education Experience Improvement Act of 2017 would provide resources and training for the officials at educational institutions who serve student veterans, helping them achieve positive education outcomes.

“The GI Bill is one of the best tools to help servicemembers make a successful transition into the civilian world. Unfortunately, many school officials are under resourced, resulting in delays in tuition payments and veterans not receiving the appropriate guidance on getting the most out of this benefit,” said Kaine. “Improving educational programs for our nation’s veterans has been one of the core focuses of my work in the Senate, and this bipartisan bill will help ensure educational institutions are fully equipped to help veterans succeed.”

“For too long, Congress has tasked officials with ensuring that student veterans have successful outcomes when using their VA Education Benefit, but have not committed the necessary resources required to ensure success,” said Tillis. “The bipartisan legislation I have introduced with Senator Kaine ensures that those who serve our veterans are properly trained, resourced, and have a manageable workload so they can commit sufficient time and attention to each enrolled veteran student.”

To read the bill, click here.

Through his work in the Senate, Kaine has worked to reduce veterans unemployment and help ease the transition from active duty to a civilian career. Kaine’s first bill he introduced in the Senate, the Troop Talent Act, provides active duty servicemembers with the tools they need to receive credentials for the skills they acquire through military training. Key provisions of the Troop Talent Act passed into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2014.

Background on the Veterans Education Experience Improvement Act of 2017

Currently, State Approving Agencies (SAA) and School Certifying Officials (SCOs) are tasked with certifying and approving veterans’ benefits and ensuring student veterans have successful outcomes when using the VA Education Benefit. SCOs are often the first school officials that veterans meet with and are the primary source for information about classes and benefits.  As the student veteran population continues to grow, SCOs are asked to do more with less. This has resulted in over $419 million in GI Bill overpayments in 2014 according to a Government Accountability Office report, as well as veterans exhausting all of their GI Bill benefits before completing a degree or certification because they were not properly counseled early on.

The Veterans Education Experience Improvement Act of 2017 would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to:

  • Set forth training requirements for school certifying officials who enroll veterans receiving education benefits.
  • Ensure that school certifying officials at covered educational intuitions have a manageable caseload by requiring that no school certifying official (SCO) complete more than 500 unduplicated certifications during any given fiscal year.
  • Increase resources available to State Approving Agencies and School Certifying Officials.
  • Restrict the use of GI Bill reporting fees paid by the VA to an educational institution to only be spent on certifications or supporting programs and training.
  • Codify and make permanent the VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC) program.

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