The law, co-sponsored by Senator Collins, fixes the 85/15 reporting requirement for veterans’ GI benefits that was burdening universities and colleges in Maine and across the country
Washington, D.C.—Bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Susan Collins to make it easier for veterans to access the education benefits they earned through their service was signed into law. The Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act of 2022 will streamline the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) 85/15 Rule for veterans’ GI benefits.
“Veterans in Maine and throughout the country have sacrificed so much for our nation, and we owe it to them to provide the benefits they have earned through their service,” said Senator Collins. “By simplifying reporting requirements, this law will eliminate red tape that created a barrier to veterans enrolling at colleges and universities through the GI bill. At the same time, this law will preserve protections that help prevent veterans from being scammed while pursuing higher education.”
“The University of Maine System is committed to serving those who have served and is proud that our public universities have received national recognition for their military-friendly culture. While well-intended, administrative changes made by the VA in 2021 added overly burdensome reporting requirements that took our staff away from providing frontline support to our Veteran students so they could instead complete onerous paperwork,” said University of Maine System Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and U.S. Air Force Veteran Robert Placido. “On behalf of the more than 1,800 Veterans, active Maine National Guard members and Veteran dependents we enroll each year, we applaud Sen. Collins and her colleagues in the Maine delegation and throughout Congress for acting quickly to pass this common sense simplification that protects both accountability and access to high-quality postsecondary education and training programs for which Veterans can use the GI Bill benefits they earned.”
The 85/15 Rule is a school reporting requirement that prohibits VA from paying benefits to students enrolling in education programs where more than 85% of the students in that program use the GI Bill or other funding from the Department. The rule protects veterans from being targeted by programs exclusively designed to take advantage of generous GI benefits and provides a helpful measure of the quality of educational programs.
Under the 85-15 rule, institutions can receive an exemption from computing and reporting 85-15 ratios to the VA if fewer than 35% of students on campus receive GI benefits. VA recently rescinded all exemptions for schools where the number of students receiving VA assistance is less than 35% of the total campus population, placing many schools’ ability to enroll veterans in jeopardy due to burdensome administrative red tape.
The Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act of 2022 will clarify the requirements of the 85/15 Rule, ensuring education programs can continue accepting veterans while maintaining oversight to prevent fraudulent programs from taking advantage of veterans.
Veteran advocates and stakeholders have applauded this effort to fix the reporting requirement burdening schools in Maine and across the country. The law was co-authored by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-KS). In addition to Senator Collins, the legislation was co-sponsored by Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).