Bill Clarifying VA 85-15 Reporting Exemption Becomes Law
On August 26, President Joe Biden signed into law the Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act of 2022, which streamlines the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) 85-15 rule. NACUBO, along with several other higher education associations, has been advocating for the passage of the bipartisan legislation, which ensures education programs can continue accepting veterans and maintains oversight to prevent fraudulent programs from taking advantage of veterans.
This legislative fix clarifies that if the percentage of veterans enrolled at a school accounts for 35 percent or less of the total enrollment, the school does not have to submit beneficiary headcounts for individual programs to the VA under its 85-15 rule, restoring the original intent of the exemption.
The 85-15 rule states that no more than 85 percent of students enrolled in a program can be “supported”—by receiving payments from the VA or having tuition, fees, or other charges paid by the institution. The rationale for the rule was that the enrollment of non-veteran students would indicate some level of quality of the programs, since individuals were willing to self-pay. If the ratio of supported students to non-supported students exceeds 85 percent, only students maintaining continuous enrollment may receive benefits for that program.
A recent policy reset by the VA had resulted in all institutions being required to reapply for their 35-percent exemption and submit their 85-15 ratios. Now, because of the change in law, schools that meet the 35-percent exemption will only need to share that information with the VA every two years in lieu of their 85-15 calculations, which otherwise would have been reported annually.
In a recent Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing discussing the legislation, VA staff indicated that implementing the changes in the bill would be relatively easy and could be done in short order.