Tester Leads Bipartisan Effort to Cut Administrative Red Tape at Montana Schools for Student Veterans

Senator introduces bipartisan, bicameral bill to fix 85/15 reporting requirement burdening Montana universities and colleges

To better protect student veterans and their hard-earned benefits in Montana and across the country, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jon Tester is introducing bipartisan, bicameral legislation to streamline the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) 85/15 Rule—a school reporting requirement that prohibits VA from paying benefits to students enrolling in education programs where more than 85 percent of the students in that program use the G.I. Bill or other funding from the Department.

VA recently rescinded all exemptions for schools where the number of students receiving VA assistance is less than 35 percent of the total campus population, placing many schools’ ability to enroll veterans in jeopardy due to burdensome administrative red tape. The Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act of 2022 will clarify the requirements of the 85/15 rule, ensuring education programs can continue accepting veterans while maintaining oversight to prevent fraudulent programs from taking advantage of veterans.

“We’ve got to remove roadblocks standing in the way of our veterans and their families getting the quality education they deserve at colleges and universities across the country,” said Chairman Tester. “Our bipartisan bill will do just that—cutting red tape and strengthening necessary oversight to prevent for-profit colleges from preying on veterans’ hard-earned benefits.”

Last November, Tester expressed his concerns with the Department’s latest interpretation of the law and requested VA take action to remove barriers for both schools and veterans utilizing their earned VA education benefits.

The Senator’s bill received strong backing from Veterans Service Organizations and stakeholders nationwide.

“We’ve heard from schools and SVA Chapters for well over a year now concerned with the trickle-down effects of VA’s recent changes to its 85/15 rule. The potential, unintended consequences of the new requirements to limit student veterans’ access to quality institutions cannot be overstated,” said Lauren Augustine, Vice President of Government Affairs with Student Veterans of America. “The Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act of 2022 addresses these concerns and better aligns the rule with Congress’ intent. We thank Chairman Tester, Chairman Takano and Ranking Member Bost for their dedication to addressing this critical issue.”

“The Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act of 2022 is exactly what veteran students and institutions needed,” said Stephen Patterson, Executive Director of the Veterans Education Project. “This legislation is a great step forward to ensuring veteran students are able to use their earned benefits at excellent schools, while providing more oversight and flexibility to colleges and universities.”

Full text of the Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act of 2022 can be found HERE.