Tester bills improve higher ed opportunities for troops, veterans

Senator wants to increase G.I. Bill benefit rates, improve coordination

(U.S. SENATE) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester wants to make it easier and cheaper for military servicemembers and veterans to receive higher education using their G.I. Bill benefits.

Tester introduced the Selected Reservist Education Enhancement Act to ensure that education benefits for National Guardsmen and Reservists keep pace with the rising costs of college. 

Since 1984, Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits for Reservists have increased only 28 percent, while the average cost of college tuition has increased 70 percent. These benefits continue to plunge in value and have only risen at half the rate of education benefits offered to active-duty troops.

“While we honor those serving overseas, we must not forget that thousands of men and women at armories and bases across the country are training and preparing to mobilize if called,” Tester said. “In the last decade, our military has relied on our reserve forces like never before. They have done an amazing job, and it is time that we honor their service appropriately. My bill will allow them to pursue more of the professional development and educational opportunities they need to prepare for their futures and provide for their families.”

Tester’s bill is endorsed by The Military Coalition – a group of nationally prominent military and veterans associations representing over 5.5 million members.

Tester also introduced legislation to restore the historic role of the state in administering the G.I. Bill.

Montana’s State Approving Agency traditionally helped veterans coordinate with schools and make informed decisions about their educations while preventing fraud, waste, and abuse in the G.I. Bill. But a recent law stripped the agency of these important duties.

Tester, Montana’s only member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, earlier this month pushed the VA to expand care to Priority 8 veterans. Today he met with Allison Hickey, the VA Undersecretary for Benefits, to discuss moving senior-level benefits administrators to Fort Harrison. They also discussed Tester’s bill to make it easier for victims of sexual trauma to get disability benefits.

Text of Tester’s Selected Reservist Education Enhancement Act appears online HERE.

Text of Tester’s bill to restore the role of State Approving Agencies appears online HERE.