The GI Bill is one of our best ways to thank the brave individuals who serve this country. While this benefit program provides flexibility and training to our veterans as they transition to civilian life, there are ways that it can be improved to make this transition easier.
The application and payment system needs to be modernized and streamlined so that our veterans don’t need to jump through additional hoops in order to use their GI Bill. Approvals should be on entire courses of study instead of on a semester-by-semester basis, thus making it easier and less stressful to continue at an institution.
The qualified courses of study should also be expanded to allow for more varied career pursuits after service, while also providing protections for our veterans from for-profit institutions that wouldn’t provide a significant chance of employment after graduation, certification, or completion of the course. Any institution that receives tuition through this program should be required to report on employment numbers and be held accountable if they’re not meeting certain standards.
Military service provides protection to all 50 states. As such, all veterans should receive in-state tuition automatically from any public institution, regardless of how long they’ve held residency, and without any restrictions.
Schools should also be pushed to give unlimited course credit for equivalent courses from military training, especially for all service members who received additional training in specialized fields. The VA should work with all schools to create an “Equivalent Courses” list so it’s easy for veterans to figure out what they’re qualified to receive credit for.
All schools should also have clear and flexible policies for enrollment and withdrawal for veterans and active servicemembers. These policies should include:
- Early enrollment periods, as well as late enrollment periods without penalty or fee
- Rules on what proportion of an individual class’s coursework must be completed, and to what standard, for credit to be issued, in case of a call to active duty (recommended: 85% of work completed with a passing grade)
- Tuition refunds in case coursework is interrupted because of a call to active duty
(Read Andrew’s full policy of Veteran Assistance here.)
There are many issues unique to the veteran community that we need to address. The transition to civilian life should be smoother, and we need to put more support structures in place. Public misconceptions have lead to issues with employment. Homelessness is a perennial problem, and the VA - especially the Veterans Health Administration - can do much more to improve the well-being of those who have served. These heroes protect and serve us during their tenure, but they come home to a quick thank you and an economy that isn’t set up to help them succeed. We owe them more than a handshake.
Problems to be Solved
- The GI Bill needs streamlining in how its implemented
- Veterans don't always qualify for in-state tuition
- Veterans don't always receive credit for courses taken through the military
- Enrollment and withdrawal rules aren't always clearly set up for veterans who return to active duty
- Make it easier for veterans to pursue educational opportunities after their service
As President, I will…
Make it less cumbersome on veterans to manage their GI Bill tuition payments
Expand the potential courses of study for veterans while protecting them from predatory for-profit schools
Work to get states to provide in-state tuition automatically for all veterans, without exceptions
Work with schools to provide course credit for equivalent classes taken during military training
Get schools to clearly define enrollment and withdrawal periods/rules in the case of return to active duty