VETERANS SEEKING MORE EDUCATION WOULD BENEFIT UNDER SEN. CRAIG'S "Vet Ed" BILL
Veterans seeking high-intensity, short-term education will benefit under the Veterans' Education and Vocational Benefits Improvement Act of 2007 (S. 1293), introduced today by U.S. Senator Larry Craig.
"Traditionally, education benefits have been paid out in equal monthly allotments throughout a semester or term. That payment structure does not work well for individuals wishing to attend short-term, career-focused technical courses, particularly if the cost is much more than the benefits he or she would receive in the few months that the course lasts," Craig said.
"We addressed this issue in part in 2001, with legislation I co-sponsored, which created an up-front, lump sum payment equal to 60 percent of the tuition and fees for certain courses. My new legislation would expand the existing program to allow accelerated payments for any short-term, high cost course, such as trucking school which often costs up to $6,000 for a 6-8 week course," Craig said.
The bill would also allow Guard and Reserve members as well as survivors and dependents of veterans to receive accelerated payments of their education benefits for any short-term, high cost course.
In addition it would update eligibility requirements for the education program created for Guard and Reserve members who were called to active duty after September 11, 2001.
"Right now Guard and Reserve members have to serve two consecutive years to qualify for maximum benefits under the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP). But just recently Secretary of Defense Robert Gates testified that from this point forward, members of the Reserves will be involuntarily mobilized for a maximum of one year at any one time.' That's a Catch-22 - you can get the benefit only if you serve for two years in a row, but we will only deploy you for one year. While that may be good military policy, it's discouraging to those wanting to pursue higher education. I believe this change is a good balance for both the military and the members of the Guard and Reserve," Craig said.
Craig's bill would also create a "buy-up" program for REAP participants, allowing them (like active duty members) to contribute up to $600 in order to receive an additional $150 per month in benefits.
"This will put Guard and Reserve members - like those who are called up to serve in the war on terror - on an equal footing with their active duty colleagues," Craig said.