By Debbie Gregory
In February, Bill AB 2099 was introduced to the California State Assembly. If approved, AB 2099 will require that all schools headquartered or operating in California will be subjected to approval by the California State Approving Agency for Veterans Education (CSAAVE). At first glance, this proposed bill seems like a proactive way to monitor colleges and universities in order to ensure that Veterans are getting their full academic return on investment received through their military service.
But on May 6th, the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), combined with the support of the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) formally announced their opposition to AB 2099. Prepared with help from the law firm Bancroft PLLC, EANGUS has presented a document that argues that the bill negates the rights of Veteran students, and conflicts with federal law.
The EANGUS document contends that AB 2099 restricts Veterans’ rights to attend federally authorized, accredited schools. The document raises the issue that, if AB 2099 is approved, Veterans can be denied the ability to use their benefits in California at the school of their choosing, despite the fact that the GI Bill is paid for by the federal government and was earned on the blood, sweat and sacrifice of the Veteran.
Through AB 2099, lawmakers in Sacramento are trying to put the same restrictions on the GI Bill that they did with the Cal Grant program. AB 2099 establishes that schools must maintain certain eligibility requirements, subject to investigation by CSAAVE. These requirements include providing:
- Licensing information on state licensing programs
- Evidence of accreditation
- Data regarding Veteran student retention rate and graduation rate, time to degree, cohort default rate, and graduate placement and graduate starting salary
- Evidence of compliance with the federal Principles of Evidence Program
Additionally, the institution must meet one or more of the following:
- Maintain a three-year Cohort Default Rate (CDR) of less than 15.5% and a graduation rate of greater than 30%
- Maintain a three-year CDR of less than 10% and a graduation rate of above 20%
- Have less than 40% of undergraduate students borrow federal loans.
But the EANGUS document also argues how requirements made by AB 2099 should not be within a state’s jurisdiction: “It is one thing for California to impose graduation rate and cohort default rate requirements in connection with the State’s expenditure of its own funds under the Cal Grant Program. It is quite something else for California to try to impose those requirements on a federal program that makes use of federal funds. That is what AB 2099 proposes to do.”
EANGUS believes that it is supporting the Post-9/11 GI Bill by opposing AB 2099 and calls on others to come together and closely examine the significant problems associated with the bill. EANGUS has expressed concern that if California enacts such a restriction on the GI Bill, other states may enact similar legislation leading to a patchwork of state regulations in which the GI Bill would differ from state to state. This California legislation will set a precedent to change the GI Bill and has the potential to penalize Veterans.
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Military Connection: EANGUS Warns CA Vets Against Bill AB 2099: By Debbie Gregory