WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, President Donald Trump signed into law bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) to help increase veteran access to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) scholarships.

H.R 2196 amends the credit hour requirement of the Edith Nourse Rogers 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.

“I am honored that my first bill as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee has been signed into law by President Donald Trump, and I am thankful to my House and Senate colleagues for their bipartisan work in making this happen,” said Congressman Barr. “Providing student veterans in the Sixth District and across the country with more flexibility to use their Forever GI Bill benefits will help them better take advantage of the education benefits they are owed. I want to thank Ranking Member Phil Roe and Economic Opportunity Subcommittee Chairman Levin for their leadership and support. Mostly, I want to thank our Veterans for their service to our country, and specifically thank the members of Kentucky’s Sixth District Veterans Coalition for the work they do in bringing to my attention issues that are important to our veterans.”

“Eastern Kentucky University is a strong supporter of military veterans. Whenever we can increase opportunities to help veterans invest in an education, we are investing in our future,” Eastern Kentucky University president Michael Benson said. “For the past six years, EKU has been ranked in the top 10 percent of Best for Vets: Colleges in the Nation by Military Times, and has been ranked as a top Military-Friendly university by GI Jobs Magazine. Our online program is specifically tailored to help veterans and active military get a quality education during or after their service to our country.”

“Expanding access to higher education is fundamental to the future of our economy and our country as is increasing the number of students who are preparing to succeed in fields such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM,” said University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto. “The Forever GI Bill, introduced and championed by Congressman Andy Barr, expands access to those who have served our country and are focusing in these critical technology and science areas. In doing so, it addresses a specific and growing need we have for our country’s future growth, while honoring and empowering veterans who have sacrificed and served. I am excited about what this legislation, now signed into law, can mean for our growing veteran population on campus.”

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.