Rep. Susie Lee’s Bipartisan Student Veteran Protection Act Passes House
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Susie Lee (Nev.-03) released the following statement after the passage of her bipartisan bill with Republican Rep. Jim Banks (Ind.-03), the Student Veteran Protection Act, in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Student Veteran Protection Act, which helps student veterans by removing the financial burdens of GI Bill overpayments, passed as part of the Protect the GI Bill Act, Rep. Mike Levin’s (Calif.-49) comprehensive legislation to provide needed fixes to the current GI Bill.
“Right now, when the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) overpays a school for GI assistance for a student veteran, the student, not the school, is responsible for reimbursing the VA. That makes no sense,” said Rep. Lee. “The Student Veteran Protection Act shifts the financial burden from the student veteran to the school, where it belongs. Not only does this help remove an unfair obstacle in our veterans’ journeys to academic success, it will save taxpayers $120 million over a decade. How would it accomplish this? By making it easier for schools to make repayments, rather than student veterans. Thank you to Rep. Banks and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for passing this important bipartisan legislation. I can think of no better way to follow up our commemoration of Veterans Day than taking real action to help those who served and their families.”
BACKGROUND: The Student Veteran Protection Act is one of two pieces of veterans legislation sponsored by Rep. Lee that passed the House today. Rep. Lee’s Newborn Care Improvement Act, which extends newborn health coverage for new veteran mothers passed the House today as well.
A 2015 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that found the VA identified $416 million in overpayments under educational assistance program during fiscal year 2014, affecting approximately one in four veteran beneficiaries and about 6,000 schools. By making overpayments the responsibility of schools instead of students, schools would return overpayments directly to the VA, instead of sending the payments to students who would then be responsible for reimbursing the VA. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), schools return 97.7 percent of overpayments when a student’s enrollment status changes, however students only return 87 percent of those overpayments to the VA – causing veterans to lose benefits over time. By simplifying the overpayment process, CBO estimates this section will save the VA an estimated $120 million over 10 years.