Serving Student Veterans: Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act

Serving Student Veterans: Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act

We are very excited to hear that Congress is committed to the reauthorization the Higher Education Act (HEA). The Higher Education Act is an important piece of legislation that can transform millions of Americans lives for the better. The Veterans Education Project (VEP) and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard (EANGUS) have been engaging on multiple issues that specifically impact Student Veterans, and will be addressing them in HEA.

One of the ideas that we enthusiastically support is the idea of institutional “risk-sharing.” We believe by ensuring colleges have financial “skin in the game,” and holding schools accountable to outcomes that are comparable with their peers, we can offer fair and equitable accountability to all schools regardless of prestige, funding, or mission, and without jeopardizing accessibility for students.

In addition, we are glad to see Congress moving towards more transparency in higher education with bi-partisan bills like the College Transparency Act. In the same vein we are looking to help build a better GI Bill comparison tool that would provide Student Veterans with more information and insight into the colleges they are hoping to enroll in.

An area of concern we do have is a recent push to change a regulation commonly referred to as the 90/10 rule. This rule limits the amount of funding an institution can receive from government funded subsidies. Currently, this rule limits institutions to receiving a maximum of 90% of their funding from government subsidies, with the remaining 10% coming from students’ own personal finances, or “skin in the game.” There have been recent proposals to change this regulation and count VA benefits as government subsidies. This change would unintentionally harm Veterans, as it would limit Veteran’s ability to freely use the benefits they have rightfully earned at whatever school they choose.

We don’t believe the benefits that Veterans have sacrificed so much to earn should be treated as a “hand-out.” As we wrote in our letter to Congress,

Doing so would be an insult to Veterans everywhere who earned their benefits with their actual “skin in the game.” On principle, we cannot support legislation that affirms the notion that Veterans benefits are subsidies from the federal government. They are earned through sacrifice and should not be used as a political bargaining chip.

With the goal of providing meaningful accountability at every institution and program Student Veterans attend, we believe that institutional risk-sharing is the ideal method and metric, because it both correctly recognizes and honors Veterans for their service and offers accountability across all sectors of higher education. We believe that these regulations should be applied to all schools so that Student Veterans will be well served no matter what school they choose to attend.

Read the letter we wrote to Congress voicing our concerns.

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