March 31, 2009

House Approves Schiff Provision to Improve Veterans Access to College Financial Aid

Official Seal of the US House of Representatives

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 Contact: Sean Oblack (202) 225-4176

House Approves Schiff Provision to Improve Veterans Access to College Financial Aid

Washington, DC – Yesterday, the House passed a bill to make changes to the Higher Education Opportunity Act which included a provision spearheaded by Congressman Adam Schiff that will ensure that returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans’ G.I. Bill benefits do not count against them when applying for college financial aid.  Rep. Schiff’s provision corrects an oversight in the original bill that could have considered Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance benefits as earned income when those veterans applied for higher education financial aid, potentially reducing the amount of need-based aid veterans could qualify for.

“Veterans returning from combat should have ready access to college to seek higher education or for job training,” said Schiff.  “This change will make it easier and more affordable for veterans to pursue college degrees, and I thank Rep. George Miller for his efforts to move this legislation forward.”

In passing the Higher Education Opportunity Act last year, Congress intended to provide qualified Veterans with 100% of the cost of a public four-year undergraduate education.  After hearing from veterans and the University of California about veterans potentially finding trouble accessing the student aid necessary to cover their education costs, Rep. Schiff worked with Representatives George Miller and Susan Davis to make sure that the intent of Congress was met.

The oversight in the original Higher Education Opportunity Act exempted veterans G.I. Bill benefits from counting as earned income beginning on July 1, 2010. This oversight may have affected those veterans applying for financial assistance for the 2009-2010 academic years. The legislation the House passed yesterday clarifies that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans’ benefits do not count as income, effective immediately, and lasting through the July 1, 2010 coverage date.