U.S. Senate passes landmark GI Bill reform package
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017) — U.S. Rep. Luke Messer’s (R-IN) proposal to help veterans impacted by the closure of ITT Tech passed the U.S. Senate today and is headed for the President’s desk to be signed into law.
Spearheaded by Messer and Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), the bipartisan proposal retroactively restores GI Bill benefits to veterans who were attending Indiana-based ITT Technical Institute and California-based Corinthian Colleges, both of which closed abruptly impacting tens of thousands of students nationwide, including thousands of veterans.
The Takano-Messer proposal is part of the Harry Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, which improves and modernizes several aspects of the GI Bill. This GI Bill reform package passed the House last week, and the Senate today.
“This is a huge win for our veterans. Not only does this bill expand GI Bill benefits for our military families, it helps the thousands of veterans who unfairly lost their benefits when ITT Tech closed,” Messer said. “Our military men and women earn their GI Bill benefits serving and defending our country. It is our duty to honor that commitment, and ensure our veterans get every chance to succeed.”
Messer heard from many veterans following ITT Tech’s closure, including Jason Nyikos, a U.S. Navy veteran from Greenfield, Indiana, who had to start his degree completely from scratch, after spending two years at ITT Tech.
“Not a single credit transferred, and Jason’s GI Bill is going to run out before he can finish a new degree,” Messer said. “Jason’s story is one among thousands. Our veterans deserve better, and we’re going to deliver.”
The Takano-Messer proposal provides full restoration of GI Bill benefits within 90 days to students who attended ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges, if they were not able to transfer their credits to a new institution. It also helps veterans who may be impacted by a school closure in the future. Messer introduced legislation to restore these benefits shortly after ITT Tech closed in September of 2016 and he has been working to restore the benefits since.
“Restoring both tuition and housing benefits to veterans for a semester cut short by a school closure is simply the right thing to do,”Takano said. “And by making this provision retroactive, we are restoring a measure of justice for the students at ITT Tech and Corinthian, as well as others across the country who have been left out in the cold by a college that shuts down without warning.”
The Harry Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 must now be signed by the President to become law.
VIDEO of Messer’s remarks urging support for the legislation is available here.