Our nation’s Veterans have fought for their right to attend the educational institution of their choice, without their academic aspirations hamstrung by red tape. We must honor their courage and sacrifice to our country by honoring their secondary education goals. The Department of Veterans Affairs proposed changes to the 85/15 Rule that would make it significantly more difficult for our service members to take advantage of their GI Bill benefits, and thus realize their secondary education goals.
The 85/15 Rule prohibits Veterans from using their educational benefits towards any program where more than 85% of the enrolled students have any portion of their tuition, fees, or other mandatory charges paid for them by the institution, or by the VA. This policy was put in place during the Korean War, to combat a scourge of predatory programs attempting to defraud Veterans of their GI Bill benefits. While this threat has long since passed, this restrictive policy has remained in place, resulting in limited access to competitive degree programs.
The VA seeks to further restrict Veteran’s access to academic programs by implementing a host of changes to the 85/15 Rule. They propose to eliminate the four calculation exemptions for students in receipt of certain types of institutional aid, revise the criteria for compliance waivers, and alter the timeline for submitting compliance reports. While these may appear to be minor, administrative changes, in practice these alterations will only serve to reduce the number of academic programs towards which Veterans may apply their hard-earned educational benefits.
We stand alongside scores of military institutions, and Veteran Service Organizations in imploring the VA to reconsider these proposed changes. Our Veterans have sacrificed the best years of their lives in service to our country—it’s our duty to invest in their future.