Tester’s Bipartisan Bill to Cut Administrative Red Tape for Veterans at Montana Schools Signed into Law
Senator championed bipartisan, bicameral effort to fix 85/15 reporting requirement burdening Montana universities and colleges
Last week, President Joe Biden signed into law the Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act of 2022—bipartisan, bicameral legislation championed by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester to streamline the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) 85/15 Rule. The 85/15 Rule is 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.
“No veteran should have to cut through bureaucratic red tape to access their hard-earned education benefits,” said Tester. “I’m proud to have worked with Senator Moran and our colleagues on this bipartisan law to remove roadblocks standing in the way of Montana veterans and their families getting the quality education they deserve.”
VA recently rescinded all exemptions for schools where the number of students receiving VA assistance is less than 35 percent of the total campus population, placing many schools’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.
As part of his push to better protect student veterans and their hard-earned benefits, Tester expressed his concerns with the Department’s latest interpretation of the law last November and requested VA take action to remove barriers for both schools and veterans utilizing their earned VA education benefits.
Veteran advocates and stakeholders have applauded the Senator’s effort to fix the reporting requirement burdening schools in Montana and across the country.
“The Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act directly addresses many of the issues facing approved colleges and universities as it relates to 85/15 compliance, makes the process more streamlined and fair, and maintains the spirit of the law in protecting veterans using their hard-earned educational benefits,” said Joe Schumacher, Director of Veteran Services at Montana State University. “We thank Chairman Tester for his work to protect student veterans in Montana and across the nation with this new law, and look forward to its implementation as it will aid us in our efforts in serving those who have served.”
“The Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act allows us to remove a burdensome reporting process for the 85/15 Rule, which the majority of Montana’s Public Institutions fall within,” said Patrick Beckwith, Director of Military & Veteran Services at the University of Montana. “Now, we can focus on new opportunities to enhance the veteran experience with finding new programs and pathways for those who served and continue to serve.”