MOAA continues its work to improve veterans education benefits, supporting two recently introduced bills that could make a big difference for veterans and their caregivers.
Here’s a look at both bills and what their passage could mean for you:
The Student Veterans Transparency and Protection Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and cosponsored by Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Chris Coons (D-Del.), would mandate the VA maintain its GI Bill Comparison Tool with accurate and expanded information on schools and benefits, to include more details on average costs and degree completion rates.
It would also ease the path for student-veterans to restore their benefits in extreme cases, such as school closures, allowing them to continue their education.
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“Our servicemembers know the GI Bill is one of the most important benefits they earn through their service,” MOAA President and CEO Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret), wrote in an April 13 letter to Schatz, a month before the bill’s introduction as S. 1607. “Unfortunately, too many have learned over the years that their benefit has historically been targeted for abuse. We are aligned with your efforts to defend this life-improving benefit for those who have served, and their families.”
Help for Caregivers
Another bipartisan effort, this one in the House, would classify caring for a veteran family member as a public service job, thereby making those caregivers eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program.
The Military and Veteran Caregiver Student Loan Relief Act, sponsored by Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Mike Turner (R-Ohio), would allow caregivers who participate in the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) to take part in the PSLF program, which offers loan forgiveness to qualifying participants who’ve already made 120 “qualifying payments” on their Direct Loans.
MOAA’s joined in supporting the bill (H.R. 2968) by other prominent military and veterans service organizations, including the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Disabled American Veterans, and Blue Star Families, as well as groups like the American Red Cross and the National Coalition for Caregiving.
About 5.5 million individuals perform these caregiving services for veterans, Connolly said in a news release announcing the bill, calling it a “noble service” and saying “they should be treated like other public servants who qualify for the public service loan forgiveness program.”
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If passed, these education benefit improvements for veterans and their families would follow a significant MOAA-supported change that became law in March, when the coronavirus relief package included language closing a loophole in the so-called “90-10 Rule,” which had allowed for-profit schools to count DoD and VA education benefits as non-federal income, making student-veterans potential targets for schools prioritizing profits over education.
MOAA continues its efforts to ensure servicemembers past and present, and their families, are able to maximize earned education benefits. Keep track of the latest efforts on this legislative front and others at MOAA’s Advocacy News page.
Every Officer Has Two Families
For over 90 years, MOAA has been working to get servicemembers and their families the benefits they deserve.