The president delivered his annual budget request, typically released the second week of February, on Wednesday, April 10. President Obama's plan includes a number of legislative proposals that would alter the administration of the Post-9/11 GI Bill program.
Principles of Excellence
Within the FY14 budget request for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the White House calls for legislation to require education institutions to report information demonstrating compliance with Executive Order 13607, which laid out the "Principles of Excellence" for institutions serving veterans, service members, and their families.
Some of the requirements include:
- Providing to prospective students, prior to enrollment, an individualized standard form with cost and financial aid information (using the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet)
- Agreeing to an institutional refund policy aligned with the rules for unearned student aid developed by the ED
- Providing educational plans for all individuals using federal military and veterans' educational benefits
Veteran Student Certification
The administration also proposes allowing any public institution in a consortium/district to certify any student enrolled in an institution in the consortium/district. The proposal would expand the reporting authority to, "allow any institution in a consortium (or district) to report enrollment information to VA for any student enrolled in the consortium if all institutions in the consortium are located in the same state and have the ability to view all student records and academic plans to ensure course(s) being certified meet the requirements of the primary institution."
Tuition and Fee Payments
The FY14 budget proposal also requests legislation to allow VA to send Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition-and-fee payments to students rather than schools. NACUBO has been considering this proposal since it was first proposed last year. While there are significant challenges for campuses in processing Chapter 33 payments, there are downsides to eliminating institutions from the current disbursement methodology. NACUBO is particularly concerned that institutions would be inadequately positioned to provide advice and assistance to student veterans if they are eliminated from this process.
The White House proposal would also bar Post-9/11 GI Bill recipients from receiving benefits from two sources (self and Transfer of Entitlement) simultaneously.
Sequester Impact Beyond FY13
VA benefits, including Post-9/11 GI Bill payments, as well as the VA general operations, were protected from FY13 sequester cuts. Veteran benefits, like Post-9/11 GI Bill payments, are protected in current law from future sequester cuts. However, beyond FY13, the VA operating budget is eligible for spending reductions, to be determined by Congress.
The NACUBO VA Payments and Processes Work Group, which includes representatives from the National Association of Veterans Programs Administrators and the American Council on Education, continues to meet quarterly with representatives from the various VA offices that administer the Chapter 33 GI Bill benefits to improve understanding and communication between institutions and the agency and enhance services to veterans.