House of Representatives, White House Agree on College GI Bill
June 19th, 2008 by Paulina
The House of Representatives plans to vote today on the latest version of the GI Bill, a law aimed at increasing the college financial aid awarded to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The Associated Press stated that Congress and the White House have reached an agreement on the bill's provisions, and that approval by the House and the President is expected.
Initially, the members of the House expressed disapproval of a major provision that would pay for not only veteran needs, but also for the war in Iraq. Rather than pass both portions of the bill as was done by the Senate-based on its version-the House ignored the Iraq allocation and agreed to set money aside for veterans pursuing a college education.
When the bill came back to the House for revision, a new agreement was settled upon, and approval of Bush's request for an additional $162 billion to pay for the wars is expected. As before, the House has agreed to offer veterans who participated in the war for at least three years enough money to cover the costs of tuition at the most expensive college or university in their state, with additional funds to cover living expenses. The value of maximum benefits will more than double the current contribution for each veteran's college education, reported the Associated Press.
Though most agree that some additional funding should be awarded to keep up with the increasing costs of a college education, ones that are rising at rates that outpace inflation, some worry that too much was being allocated for the cause. Conservative Democrats have expressed concern that the bill could not be covered by cutting funding to other sectors, and that the bill was irresponsible considering the nation's financial circumstances.
Congress May Require Colleges to Repay Loans for Students Called to Military Service
Washington – While the Senate was preparing to pass a much-heralded GI bill on Thursday, committees in both chambers of Congress were quietly considering a veterans-benefits bill that is far less popular with colleges.
The legislation, which is supported by veterans groups, would require colleges to refund loans and out-of-pocket costs to students who are called to active military duty in the middle of a semester – and to give students the right to sue colleges that fail to do so.
College lobbyists say the requirement would conflict with existing rules and would be difficult to carry out. On Thursday the American Council on Education and several other associations sent a letter voicing concerns about the bill to the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. The letter suggests that the federal government discharge the loans, rather than require colleges to repay them.
"It's kind of outrageous to expect institutions to repay loans" that were taken out by their students, said David S. Baime, vice president for government relations at the American Association of Community Colleges. "If a student took a loan out, it's their responsibility."
The groups are also unhappy with a provision that would require colleges to re-enroll veterans at the same academic status they held when they departed. The groups say most institutions already do so, but want to be able to make the decisions themselves, on a case-by-case basis.
Patrick Campbell, legislative director for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said the requirements were a matter of fairness. He said he had heard many horror stories from veterans who struggled to get refunds or to re-enroll at their original status.
"Deploying students are being put in a worse position because of their service," he said. "When veterans come home and their schools make them jump through hoops, some students will not go back." -Kelly Field
Posted on Friday June 27, 2008 | Permalink |
June 27, 2008
Long-Awaited Veterans Tuition-Benefits Bill Heads to President's Desk
Washington – The U.S. Senate gave final approval on Thursday night to a bill that would significantly expand veterans' education benefits, sending the measure to President Bush for a signature.
The legislation would provide veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who have served for at least three years with enough aid to attend the most expensive public institution in their state, plus a monthly stipend for housing costs. For veterans attending more-costly private colleges, the bill would match, dollar for dollar, any aid that the institutions provide above the cost of the most expensive public college in the state.
Last night's vote came a little over a week after lawmakers and the president reached a compromise on the bill, ending a monthlong impasse over the measure. President Bush initially opposed the bill, saying it would be too expensive and could make it harder for the military to retain troops in a time of war.
To answer his concerns about retention, Democratic leaders agreed to add a provision to the bill that would allow service members to transfer their educational benefits to their spouses and children. Service members could make such a transfer to their spouses only after having completed six years of service and committing to serving in the military for at least four more years. Benefits could be transferred to children only after a service member completed 10 years of service. -Kelly Field
Posted on Friday June 27, 2008 | Permalink |