With the influx of Veteran students on college campuses, many institutions of higher education have established a centralized location where GI bill students can have all of their academic needs met. Legislation currently making its way through the House would implement an incentive for all schools to create and maintain Veteran centers on their campuses.
The Veteran Education Empowerment Act, H.R. 5589, is a bipartisan bill that directs the Secretary of Education to create a system that awards four-year grants to colleges and universities that establish and maintain a center for their GI Bill students. In order to be eligible for the grants, the institutions would need to have a population of 15,000 students, with at least 1% of the population being Veteran students, active-duty military or military dependents. Further eligibility would require the schools be located in areas with significant Veteran populations, implementing programs that assist Veterans in the local community, and having a sustainability plan which demonstrates the schools’ plan for maintaining the center, even after the grant is expended.
H.R. 5589 defines a “Veteran Student Center” as a dedicated space that provides these students with a lounge or meeting place, or a centralized office that is staffed by trained employees that is dedicated to serving Veterans on campus. To meet the criteria for grant eligibility, the Veteran Education Empowerment act will require these centers to provide GI Bill students with the tools to succeed at school, transition into student life, and eventually, the civilian workforce. They are also required to assist their students with obtaining federal and state Veterans benefits, as well as networking with other students.
According to the American Council on Education, which represents over 1,700 colleges and universities, providing a dedicated space to serve Veterans on campus is critical to a school’s efforts to provide for Veteran students. The problem is that many schools find it difficult to fund such a resource. Grants that would be provided by the Veteran Education Empowerment Act would allow more schools to provide this invaluable resource to its Veteran student population.
H.R. 5589 is supported by many Veterans service organizations, Veteran advocates and educators, including The American Council on Education, the American Legion, Association of the United States Navy, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the National Guard Association of the United States, the Student Veterans of America (SVA) and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
The Veteran Education Empowerment Act was introduced in the House on September 18th, and is currently in the hands of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Please contact your representative and urge them to support H.R. 5589 the Veteran Education Empowerment Act.
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