U.S. Rep. Luke Messer’s (IN-06) proposal to help veterans impacted by school closures, like ITT Technical Institute, is one step closer to becoming law.
The Veterans’ Affairs Committee has included Messer’s proposal in its bipartisan GI Bill reform package, which was announced today by Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) and is scheduled to be heard by the Committee as soon as next week.
“When ITT Tech closed its doors, thousands of veterans were left high and dry… with no degree or path forward,” Messer said. “Our service men and women count on these benefits to help them start a career and build a life after serving our country. The least we can do is ensure they get that chance.”
Messer’s proposal would allow veterans to recover their GI Bill educational benefits if they used their benefits to attend a college or university that closes mid-semester, like Indiana-based ITT Tech. ITT Tech abruptly closed in September 2016 impacting 40,000 students, including more than 7,000 veterans.
The GI Bill reform legislation, the Harry Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, improves and extends the education benefits granted to veterans, their surviving spouses and dependents through the GI Bill.
In addition to Messer’s GI Bill school closure proposal, the bill removes the 15-year time restriction to receive GI Bill benefits and increases funding for Reservists and Guardsmen, dependents, surviving spouses and surviving dependents.
The school closure provision included in today’s bill would apply to all veterans impacted by school closures dating back to Jan. 1, 2015.
Messer originally introduced legislation to restore GI Bill benefits to veterans harmed by hool closures in September 2016, shortly after the announcement of ITT Tech’s closure and with the support of several members of the Indiana Congressional delegation.
Messer also led the charge to restore Pell Grant eligibility to students who were using the grants to attend ITT Tech. At Messer’s urging, the Department of Education agreed to restore Pell Grants to an estimated 16,000 former ITT Tech students enabling them to finish their degrees elsewhere.