David Roe (Republican – Tennessee) introduced H.R. 3218 in order to make certain improvements in the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other Purposes. This bill is a reform of the G.I. Bill.
The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on July 13, 2017 and sent to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and Armed Services Committee. The bill was presented and passed with unanimous vote on July 24, 2017. The bill was forwarded to the Senate on July 24, 2017.
The bill contains multiple amendments to the existing G.I. Bill. The changes are as follows:
Section 101 – The bill adds time spent on active duty as a National Guardsman or Reservist receiving medical care or recovering from injuries received while on active duty.
Section 102 – The bill authorizes additional funding under the G.I. Bill for members of the national Guard and Reserve. It increases the amount of money for which individuals who serve between 90 days to 6 months are eligible. It increases the benefit from 40% to 50% payable. It also increases the amount of money for which individuals who serve between 6 months to 12 months are eligible by increasing the benefit amount from 50% to 60%.
Section 103 – The bill will extend full eligibility for the post-9/11 G.I. Bill to any Purple Heart recipients since September 11, 2001.
Section 104 – The bill would allow certain members of the Reserve, who lost educational assistance when Congress repealed the Reserve Education Assistant Program (REAP), to transfer into the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.
Section 105 – The bill changes the calculation for living stipend amounts from calculations based on school location into calculations based on where the student attends the majority of their classes.
Section 106 – The bill will change the current rules that require a veteran be charged an entire month of benefits/funding pay for any national test such as the SAT, GRE, etc., or licensing test. The bill will require the test is pro-rated to the amount of the actual cost of the test.
Section 107 – The bill will restore any used funding to the veteran should their school close in the middle of a semester. The bill will also authorize additional living stipend payments for up to 4 months, or the length of the semester, where they were attending school when it closed.
Section 108 – The bill will extend the Yellow Ribbon Program to students receiving a scholarship through the Fry Scholarship program and to those who received a Purple Heart after September 11, 2001.
Section 109 – The bill will allow a veteran to transfer remaining G.I. Bill funds to another dependent if the original dependent receiving the funds dies before they utilize all of the benefits. This also will allow a dependent to transfer remaining months of funding to another dependent after the death of the servicemember or veteran.
Section 110 – The bill will authorize the VA to provide additional funds to help a veteran complete a STEM degree.
Section 111 – The bill will eliminate the time limitation to use G.I. Bill benefits for new members of the Armed Forces.
Section 112 – The bill will require the VA to pro-rate the housing stipend provided to Reservists who get called up for active duty during the middle of a month rather than the Reservist lose the entire month stipend.
Section 113 – The bill will authorize $30 million to improve the information technology and claims processing system.
Section 114 – The bill will authorize a 5-year pilot test program for veterans to enroll in high-tech educational courses. The tuition and fees will be payed in a manner that incentivizes the school to graduate and place the students in a job. A living stipend will also be issued to students while using this benefit.
Section 201 – The bill will repeal the sunset date for work study benefits.
Section 202 – The bill will change the number of months of funding for people eligible for the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program from 45 to 36 months in order to align the funding with other G.I. Bill programs. This change will effect individuals who become eligible after August 1, 2018.
Section 203 – The bill will increase the monthly payment for the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program by $200 per month.
Section 301 – The bill will increase the funding for the State Approving Agencies (SAA) from $19 million to $21 million per year. The bill will authorize an additional $3 million to the SAAs from the VA discretionary funds. The bill will also require the VA to provide cost of living adjustments to the SAA budgets in accordance with Social Security benefit adjustments.
Section 302 – The bill will allow a G.I. Bill recipient to use their benefits for an accredited program at a local vocational and technical school for post-secondary education.
Section 303 – The bill will require the GI bill Comparison Tool to include information on whether schools have veteran priority enrollment systems.
Section 304 – The bill will allow the VA to provide fees to schools or apprenticeship programs for veterans programs at the institutions.
Section 305 – The bill will require the VA to consult with the SAAs and provide requirements for training school certifying officials and also allows the VA to disapprove an education course if the school certifying official does not meet the training requirements.
Section 306 – The bill will extend the authority for the VA Advisory Committee on Education until December 2022.
Section 307 – The bill will codify the Veterans Success on Campus program.
Section 308 – The bill will require the VA to allow institutions to view the remaining benefit amounts for each veteran enrolled at the institution. The bill will also allow veterans to opt out of the school seeing that information.
Section 309 – The bill will provide the school officials to certify a course as beginning on the first day of a term even if it does not, for the sake of certifying a veteran eligible for G.I. Benefits.
Section 401 – The bill will make active duty Reservists under 12304, 12304(a), and 12304(b) orders eligible for post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits.
Section 402 – The bill will make the 12304, 12304(a), and 12304(b) reservists eligible under the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program in chapter 31 of title 38 United States Code.
Section 501 – The bill will offset the package by changing the living stipend payments for those using the post-9/11 G.I. Bill to the same basic allowance for housing that are currently paid to active duty service members at the E-5 with dependents rate.