More student veterans could use Forever GI Bill benefits if this bill passes

Abbie Bennett
April 12, 2019 - 11:08 am

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Members of Congress want to give student veterans access to more education benefits, but it’ll take a bill passing to remove “arbitrary” requirements to give vets access to more scholarship funds.

Current law prohibits student veterans from using the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM scholarship, part of the Forever GI Bill because there are few undergraduate programs that meet a current requirement of 128 credit hours.

Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., introduced a bill on April 10 that would remove the 128-credit hour requirement, opening the scholarship up to more student veterans.

“It is incumbent upon us to provide our veterans with the tools they need to be successful in their transition to civilian life after serving in the Armed Forces,” Barr said in a statement. “By removing arbitrary credit hour requirements for student veterans enrolled in STEM programs and giving them more flexibility to use their Forever GI Bill benefits, veterans will be able to better take advantage of the education benefits they are owed.”

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“Science, technology, engineering, and math fields are the future of our 21st-century economy, and it is critical that veterans have the support they need to pursue a STEM degree," Rep. Mike Levin, D-Calif., a cosponsor of the bill, said in a statement. "I am proud to help introduce bipartisan legislation that will allow more veterans to pursue STEM degrees, and I will continue to work with my colleagues across the aisle on measures to ensure that veterans can launch careers in high-demand industries.”

The bill would be used to ensure that the scholarship program Congress provided in 2017 could be used in the “intended” way, Barr said, and that the student veterans get the support they need.

"By eliminating the credit hour requirement for a STEM degree program to qualify for this scholarship, we are ensuring that the scholarship functions as intended and that all student veterans interested in a STEM degree are able to qualify for the additional funding,” Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said in a statement.

"We must ensure our nation’s veterans can continue to serve our country out of uniform and fully utilize their GI benefits by earning degrees in STEM fields -- regardless of the length of their education program," Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., chairman of the HCVA, said in a statement. "Broadening these criteria, not only helps modernize our workforce but prepares our country for the economy of the future.”

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