Congressman Barr’s Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Flexibility in Forever GI Bill Benefits Unanimously Passes House Committee
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee unanimously passed legislation introduced by Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) to ensure that student veterans have access to the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM scholarship program that was enacted as part of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, also known as the Forever GI Bill.
Current law prohibits many student veterans from using this scholarship as there are very few undergraduate programs that meet the current requirement that a program require more than 128 credit hours for completion. The legislation would ensure that student veterans enrolled in a STEM degree program are able to fully utilize their educational benefits by lowering the scholarship eligibility to a much more common 120 credit hour requirement. The bill is cosponsored by Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs and Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.), and Rep. Auma Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-American Samoa).
“I am thankful to my colleagues on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee for joining me in this effort to provide our Veterans with the tools they need to be successful in their transition to civilian life after serving in the Armed Forces,” said Rep. Barr. “Removing arbitrary credit hour requirements for student Veterans enrolled in STEM programs and giving them more flexibility to use their Forever GI Bill benefits, will better allow our veterans to take advantage of the education benefits they are owed. I want to again thank Representative Levin and Ranking Member Roe for their help on this important and bipartisan issue, and a special thanks to Chairman Mark Takano for allowing this important legislation to be heard in committee.”
“I’m pleased to see this bill passed out of our committee to make sure our nation’s veterans can fully utilize their GI benefits throughout the duration of their education by earning degrees in STEM fields,” said House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.). “With this change, we can not only modernize our workforce, but prepare our country for the economy of the future.”
“I am grateful for Congressman Barr and his efforts to support student veterans,” said Rep. Roe. “When President Trump signed the Forever GI Bill into law last Congress, it created a needed scholarship program to help student veterans pursue STEM degrees. Rep. Barr’s bill fixes an error in the law that inadvertently limited the number of student veterans who were eligible for the scholarship. I was glad to see this bill unanimously passed the Committee this week and I look forward to seeing it debated on the House floor soon and, ultimately, sent to the President’s desk so that we can ensure student veterans can access the educational benefits they earned.”
H.R 2196 would ensure that the scholarship program Congress provided for student veterans in STEM programs can be used in the way Congress intended and - more importantly - ensure that student veterans in these important degree programs receive the support they need to pursue their dreams. This program helps student veterans who often need to take additional credit hours to brush up on critical math or science skills necessary for success in a STEM program.