Bilirakis VA Education Bill Passes House, Senate
The bill prevents colleges and universities from penalizing veterans whose tuition payments under the GI Bill are held up.
WASHINGTON, DC – A bill that seeks to prevent colleges and universities from penalizing veterans for late tuition payments under the GI Bill has passed both the House and Senate and is headed to President Donald Trump for signature.
The bill, the Servicemembers Improved Transition through Reforms for Ensuring Progress Act, or SIT-REP, ensures veterans are held harmless from any penalties that their school may impose because of potential delays in the processing of their tuition payments.The bill, sponsored by U.S. Rep Gus Bilirakis, R-Tarpon Springs, passed the U.S. Senate this week. It passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month.
Bilirakis said there are several steps involved when veterans apply for education benefits under the GI Bill. To complete this process, some information must be provided by the veteran and other information is required to be verified directly by the school.
This multi-tiered process can cause delays in payment; however, the school has the guarantee of the federal government that it will ultimately be paid. Upon these delays, some schools put a hold on a student’s accounts or force the student to begin a payment plan of tuition and fees.
“I filed this common sense bill in response to several student veterans who were subject to punitive action by their school because it received payment from the VA after a certain deadline,” Bilirakis said. “This legislation is very timely given the recent delays by the VA in processing payments.
“I am continuing to closely monitor that situation, and have been assured that all Veterans will receive the full amount they are due. However, my bill will guarantee, moving forward, that veterans will not lose access to education or charged with additional fees from the schools. Veterans should never experience financial harm or denial of access to education due to bureaucratic red tape in processing paperwork at the VA or school. The GI Bill is already a wonderful benefit that our Veterans have earned and this legislation makes the program better.”
Among the groups supporting the legislation is the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a national organization that provides direct services and advocacy on behalf of those who have lost a military family member.
“TAPS is grateful to Rep. Bilirakis for promoting this legislation which would provide students receiving VA payments the same protections as those who receive Title IV funding such as Pell Grants and federal student loans. Student survivors and veterans should not be financially handicapped because of VA and higher education bureaucracy,” said Kathleen Moakler, TAPS director of survivor advocacy.
Bilirakis said this is the 27th bill he has proposed that has become law since January 2015.
Bilirakis represents Florida’s 12th Congressional District, which includes all of Pasco and northern parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
For information about Bilirakis, go to bilirakis.house.gov.
Gus Bilirakis | Veterans | Education | Politics | Tampabay News
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