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The Student Veteran Financial Aid Fairness Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

The Student Veteran Financial Aid Fairness Act

Mr. MITCHELL. Madam Speaker, earlier today I introduced the Student Veteran Financial Aid Fairness Act, a bill to exempt service-connected education benefits from being figured into a veteran's financial aid needs.

This Congress has made education one of its top priorities. Last session, I proudly supported the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which lowers student loan interest rates and increases Pell grants. This is an important step toward making a higher education affordable for all students. I was happy to see the President sign it into law.

Just last week, we continued our commitment to make a higher education more affordable by passing the College Opportunity and Affordability Act. Again, I proudly supported this legislation and was particularly pleased to support the important resources it provides for student veterans.

As a Member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, I have spoken to many veterans from my home State of Arizona and all around the country. These veterans have told me about the difficulties they face in readjusting to civilian life and they have consistently told me that the college environment is a good way to ease that transition.

Many student veterans are under different pressures than their non-veteran peers in college. Some have families of their own, some have full-time jobs, and most are a good deal older than the other students on campus. Additionally, many veterans, especially from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are coping with injuries like post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

And making matters worse, the rising cost of higher education is making it more difficult for veterans to go to college.

We promised a higher education to our servicemembers when they joined and it is our responsibility to see that they get it when they become veterans.

This is not the case, right now. When a veteran applies for financial aid using the FAFSA, their G.I. Bill benefits are considered resources, which are then counted against the amount of aid they can receive. My bill would fix that problem and ensure that the G.I. Bill is used as intended, a benefit for military service, as opposed to a means to reduce the amount of student aid our veterans can receive.

The current law prevents student veterans from taking full advantage of Stafford and Perkins Loans, Pell Grants, and Federal Work-study. I believe it is critical that we continue to fight for college affordability, especially when it comes to providing for our veterans.

I think it is wrong to judge the needs of our veterans with the same standard as other students without military service.

I know Mr. Filner, the Chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, has made it a priority to reform the G.I. Bill this session, but in the mean time, it is important that we work together as a Congress to fix this financial aid problem.

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