Veterans Education Success Celebrates Landmark Law Protecting the GI Bill

Veterans Education Success Celebrates Landmark Law to Protect Student Veterans and Ensure Better Oversight of GI Bill Colleges

January 5, 2021

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Carrie Wofford: carrie@vetsedsuccess.org

Veterans Education Success celebrates landmark legislation to protect student veterans and ensure better oversight of GI Bill colleges

Veterans Education Success proposed, and provided significant input on, legislation that secured unanimous votes in Congress

Today, the President signed into law a major omnibus package of veterans legislation, the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020, which contains landmark GI Bill legislation that Veterans Education Success proposed, and provided significant input on, over the past two years. It was unanimously approved by the U.S. House on December 16 and by the U.S. Senate on December 9.

“This landmark new law expands student veterans’ protections and will significantly weed out predatory colleges that take advantage of veterans,” said President Carrie Wofford.  “This new law was a long time coming and we profoundly thank the Congressional Veterans Affairs Committees for hearing our concerns and stepping up to protect veterans and their hard-earned GI Bill. This bill passed unanimously because stopping waste, fraud, and abuse is common sense.”

Contained within the larger omnibus veterans package, the Protect the GI Bill Act:

  • Requires risk-based reviews of schools: Previously, schools like ITT Tech and Corinthian remained eligible for GI Bill funds even after federal and state legal action, up to the day they shuttered. A risk-based review is now triggered if a school is under Heightened Cash Monitoring Level 2 or provisional certification status at the Education Department, any punitive action by any federal or state entity, faces the loss or risk of loss of accreditation, or has converted from for-profit status. Schools that fail to comply or to secure affirmation following the review will be disapproved.
  • Strengthens the ban on deceptive and misleading advertising by defining misrepresentations (using Education Department definitions) and covering 21st-century advertising methods and lead generator companies; forcing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to act within strict timelines, create a process for school rebuttal and reinstatement, and ensure that VA’s action is sufficiently deterrent, the school has hired a third-party auditor, put procedures in place to prevent repeat offenses, removed pressure on recruiters and repudiated its practices to all employees; and empowering State approving agencies to investigate and make preliminary findings. Repeat offenders face at least suspension of new enrollments. Third-time repeat offenders will be disapproved.
  • Restores VA education benefits to students whose school closed or was disapproved so long as they have transferred fewer than 12 credits. This extends a 2017 law that had covered only the time period when ITT Tech and Corinthian closed. It also covers Veteran Readiness & Employment (“Voc Rehab”) tuition aid.
  • Stops GI Bill to subpar college programs that are not approved for and participating in Title IV at the Education Department or “at risk of losing accreditation.” When Argosy was cut off by the Education Department for failing to disburse Title IV funds to students, VA continued to send GI Bill benefits to the school because of an automatic “deemed approved” status for accredited schools. Also requires law schools to be properly accredited.
  • Protects students from VA debt collection for overpaid tuition: Currently, VA claws back tuition overpayments from students, even though the school received the tuition, a problem affecting 1 in 4 GI Bill students, and more common at for-profit schools. It happened partly because VA sent the entire semester of tuition after a veteran sat for one day of class, before the add/drop period, incentivizing predatory schools to try to get “just one day” of enrollment. This law shifts the burden onto schools to repay VA any tuition overpayments. It also stops the overpayment problem by requiring schools to certify the student’s enrollment both upon enrollment and again after the school’s add/drop period and by requiring students to re-verify their course load each month.
  • Requires clear information to prospective students about the true costs and estimated loan debts, graduation and job placement rates, and acceptance of transfer credit; ensures students approve of enrollment in a course and are not automatically enrolled; requires schools to provide federal student loans prior to institutional loans, accommodate short absences due to service, stop same-day recruitment, stop more than 3 unsolicited recruiting contacts, and provide a point of contact for VA students; prohibits incentive compensation; and more.

Other provisions include:

4625 Factsheet

Veterans Education Success

1250 H Street NW Floor 8 Washington DC 20005

Web: VetsEdSuccess.org

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