A nonpartisan study is needed before the federal government makes any sweeping policy changes that would affect student veterans’ benefits, writes Daniel Elkins.
Since 2010, I have served in the United States military in the National Guard. I am a proud life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard, known as EANGUS, and have served in combat under hostile fire as a Green Beret. For the last five years, I have also advocated for my fellow veterans as the legislative director for EANGUS. I live and breathe veterans’ rights because, as a service member myself, it is personal.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, in 2018 the Department of Veterans Affairs paid out over $10 billion in education benefits to student veterans and institutions of higher education. This substantial amount of money has placed veterans’ education benefits at the center of policy discussions with significant controversy.
At EANGUS, I have advocated for student veterans to ensure they get the compensation they deserve for the heroic duties they have performed for our country, but unfortunately the bureaucrats in D.C. don’t always make it easy.
From the Department of Defense restricting how troops can transfer their GI Bill Benefits to their families, to the VA restricting how many veterans can go to a school, to politicians considering vast changes to laws without figuring out the implications they might have on veterans, I have my work cut out for me. With the stakes this high, we can’t afford to play politics with student veterans’ benefits. Fortunately, a few simple, common-sense solutions would greatly help student veterans and their families.
Whenever Congress decides to make a change in policy, it should be driven by data. The military has taught me to take great caution before engaging in kinetic activity. To avoid unacceptable collateral damage, we require dual-source verification of intelligence before taking lethal action.
Similarly, before policy changes that could disrupt significant portions of higher education and displace tens of thousands of student veterans are implemented, all the facts need to be considered. For example, the 90-10 rule is a regulation that determines how some colleges receive their funding, and some would like to see it changed in a way that would directly impact student veterans. Though well intentioned, the impact of changing this rule and the potential collateral damage it might have has not been sufficiently studied.
Therefore, I agree with EANGUS’s deeply held conviction that before any legislation is passed on changing the 90-10 rule, the government needs to commission and complete a study on what the impact could be to student veterans and how higher education as a whole might be affected. A nonpartisan study like this is vital and should be a prerequisite to making any sweeping policy changes that could displace thousands of students.
Another common-sense idea that EANGUS has been working to bring to reality is a more robust GI Bill comparison tool. The current comparison tool lacks necessary data that track the amount of GI Bill dollars institutions are receiving at the programmatic level, and it has no outcome metrics disaggregated for veterans by degree.
With many veterans attending various programs at an institution, the institutional graduation rate is not enough. Veterans want to know information regarding their program, not their institution. Many programs perform differently and have different learning rates. Highlighting these differences will allow policy makers and students to make better decisions when thinking… (continue reading)