WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) to help increase veteran access to STEM scholarships today passed the U.S. House of Representatives by voice vote.
H.R 2196 would amend the credit hour requirement of the Edith Nourse Rogers Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Scholarship program in the Forever GI Bill to make the scholarship more accessible to veterans across the country. This legislation works to ensure that this scholarship program 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.
“Supporting our veterans as they transition from service in the Armed Forces to civilian life is a bipartisan issue that we can all agree on, and I’m honored that my colleagues in the House supported this legislation which accomplishes this important work,” said Congressman Barr. “Providing our veterans with more flexibility to use their Forever GI Bill benefits will help them better take advantage of the education benefits they are owed. I am honored to have my first bill as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee passed, and I want to especially thank Ranking Member Phil Roe, and Economic Opportunity Subcommittee Chairman Levin for their leadership and support.”
"Our nation’s veterans leave the military with tremendous skills, advantages, and potential and investing in their success has many benefits for society." said Roe. "That is why empowering veterans to pursue higher education and find meaningful careers is one of the most important ways to not only honor their service, but also help them build on the successes they achieved in their military careers in their civilian lives. Today, the House did just that by passing two bipartisan bills that will encourage more veterans to pursue advanced degrees in high-need fields of study and incentivize companies to hire more veterans. I am particularly grateful that the House passed Rep. Barr’s bill, H.R. 2196, to support student veterans seeking degrees in science, technology, engineering, or math. After his appointment to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs in January, Rep. Barr learned of an oversight in the Forever GI Bill that unintentionally prohibited student veterans in STEM programs in most states from participating in the scholarship program Congress created for them last year. He then took it upon himself to right this wrong on their behalf. I commend him for his leadership and join him in calling on the Senate to quickly pass his bill so that it can be signed into law well in advance of the August 1st scholarship deadline. Our student veterans deserve nothing less."
Current law would prohibit many student veterans from using this scholarship as there are very few undergraduate programs that meet the current 128 credit hour requirement. The legislation would ensure that student veterans enrolled in a STEM degree program are able to fully utilize their educational benefits by lowering the requirement to a much more common 120 credit hour requirement.
Congressman Barr’s remarks from the House Floor on today’s passage can be found here.