Cummings, Yoho Introduce Legislation to Safeguard Student Veterans

July 26, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (July 26, 2019) – Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (MD-07) and Congressman Ted Yoho (FL-03) introduced the Safeguarding Student Veterans Act to protect student veterans using the Post 9/11 GI Bill.  The bipartisan legislation protects student veterans from troubled schools, including those operating for-profit, by increasing coordination between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Education.  The bill requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to better understand and track the risks that certain schools pose to empower veterans when deciding on which schools to attend.

Currently, schools facing serious financial or compliance problems are only required to share information with the Department of Education, not the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The Department of Veterans Affairs must be in a better position to protect student veterans using the Post 9/11 GI Bill.  For example, when ITT Technical Institute closed its doors, about 7,000 of its 40,000 students were on the GI Bill and when Education Corporation of America suddenly closed, nearly 4,000 student veterans using the GI Bill were impacted.

“In recent years, we have seen a wave of abrupt closures of colleges in Maryland and around the country, particularly those operating for-profit.  These sudden closings have disproportionately impacted student veterans, leaving these student veterans bearing a major burden and asking ‘what’s next?’  The Safeguarding Student Veterans Act increases coordination between the Department of Education and the Department of Veterans Affairs in order to empower veterans to make the best decision when choosing their school.  Our veterans have served our country, and we must honor the sacrifices they made as they transition back into civilian life and seek to better themselves through education,” said Congressman Cummings.

“I’m honored to work alongside Congressman Cummings in introducing the Safeguarding Student Veterans Act.  This commonsense bill ensures that the VA receives the same information the Department of Education does when a school is facing severe compliance or financial issues- allowing them to protect student veterans utilizing the Post 9/11 GI Bill and update them about these issues.  This bill will ensure that none of our student veterans are blindsided by a school closure and that they can take appropriate steps if their school is facing issues,” said Congressman Yoho.

Specifically, the Safeguarding Student Veterans Act:

  • Increases Coordination Between Agencies: When any school, including those operating for-profit, is placed on Heightened Cash Monitoring status for serious financial or compliance problems, the information that schools hand over to the Department of Education will also be shared with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to Better Understand Risks: The Department of Veterans Affairs would be required to undertake a risk analysis for these schools. The analysis would include information the Department of Veterans Affairs receives from the Department of Education as well as additional factors such as the volume of student complaints, rates of Federal student loan defaults by veterans, and veteran completion rates.
  • Empowers Veterans: The Department of Veterans Affairs would then notify veterans of the results of the risk analysis and include the findings in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ online GI Bill Comparison Tool.

The Safeguarding Student Veterans Act is supported by Student Veterans of America, American Legion, Veterans Education Success, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Vietnam Veterans of America, Higher Learning Advocates, and High Ground Veterans Advocacy.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh stated, “We are grateful to Congressman Cummings and Congressman Yoho for engaging this important issue.  My office has made it a priority to protect all Maryland students, and especially our veterans, from predatory, for-profit schools.  This legislation will help ensure that student veterans are given necessary information about a school so they can make an informed decision about where they use their hard-earned benefits.  It has our strong support.”

“The Safeguarding Student Veterans Act is a commonsense approach to help government agencies communicate more efficiently when a school is in financial trouble. Currently, the Department of Education has the ability to monitor and stop taxpayer funds from flowing to financially irresponsible schools.  That same information is not automatically shared with the VA. This puts student veterans at risk for greater fraud, waste, and abuse.  This bill corrects a communication gap and will help the VA be more informed in order to more effectively protect veterans’ earned education benefits,” said Lauren Augustine, Vice President of Government Affairs for Student Veterans of America.

Click here for the bill text.