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Congress Moves Forward on Veterans Consumer Information Bills

September 12, 2012

Capitol Steps

 

​Congress moved forward this week with legislation designed to provide additional consumer information and protections for veterans using G.I. Bill education benefits.

The House on Tuesday passed the Improving Transparency of Education Opportunities for Veterans Act (H.R. 4057). The bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to develop a comprehensive policy to improve outreach and transparency to veterans and service members by providing key consumer information.

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee today cleared a related bill, the G.I. Bill Consumer Awareness Act (S. 2241), that has a similar goal of providing more consumer information to veterans to help them make informed decisions about how to best use their G.I. Bill benefits.

ACE and other higher education associations have sent letters to the House and Senate expressing their views on the legislation. ACE strongly supports efforts to provide veterans with more information and to protect them from fraudulent and unduly aggressive recruiting practices occurring at a subset of institutions. But there are concerns that some specific provisions may undercut the bills’ larger goals.

On the whole, the House bill represents a more streamlined and less prescriptive approach than the Senate measure, although ACE and the other associations raise some specific concerns with both approaches. Each bill appears to require institutions to provide a significant amount of data that colleges and universities do not currently collect.

For example, the Senate bill requires institutions to provide information broken down at the level of a student’s major. In the House measure, institutions would be required to submit “enrollment rates,” a term which is not adequately defined. While institutions do collect the total number of students enrolled, they do not collect enrollment rates.

Congress isn’t expected to be in session much longer before the November elections, but the full Senate may vote on its bill before the election recess.

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