WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.), a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced legislation 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, regardless of the current 128 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-Cali.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.
“It is incumbent upon us 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 Barr. “By removing arbitrary credit hour requirements for student Veterans enrolled in STEM programs and giving them more flexibility to use their Forever GI Bill benefits, Veterans will be able to better take advantage of the education benefits they are owed. I am honored work with Representative Levin and Ranking Member Roe on this important and bipartisan issue.”
“Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields are the future of our 21st century economy, and it is critical that veterans have the support they need to pursue a STEM degree," said Levin. "I am proud to help introduce bipartisan legislation that will allow more veterans to pursue STEM degrees, and I will continue to work with my colleagues across the aisle on measures to ensure that veterans can launch careers in high-demand industries.”
"When the Forever GI bill was signed into law last Congress, it created a scholarship program that helped pay for student veterans who were in STEM degree programs," said Roe. "By eliminating the credit hour requirement for a STEM degree program to qualify for this scholarship, we are ensuring that the scholarship functions as intended and that all student veterans interested in a STEM degree are able to qualify for the additional funding. I am thankful that Rep. Barr and Rep. Levin have taken the lead on fixing this error and ensuring all our student veterans receive access to the educational benefits they have earned.”
"We must ensure our nation’s veterans can continue to serve our country out of uniform and fully utilize their GI benefits by earning degrees in STEM fields-- regardless of the length of their education program," said Rep. Mark Takano (D-Cali.), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "Broadening these criteria, not only helps modernize our workforce but prepares our country for the economy of the future.”
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.