This week your VFW participated in two panel discussions on issues facing veterans in higher education. The panels were hosted by the National Association of State Approving Agencies, or NASAA, and the National Association of Veterans Program Administrators, or NAVPA, both of which were in Washington for their annual legislative conferences.
NASAA is the professional association that represents the state agencies responsible for approving GI Bill-eligible programs in 49 states, and NAVPA is the professional association that represents school certifying officials responsible for processing GI Bill paperwork for student-veterans on more than 1,200 campuses around the country.
VFW Deputy Legislative Director Ryan Gallucci participated in both panels, highlighting VFW’s recent successes in helping student-veterans determine whether they are academically and financially prepared for college prior to enrollment through Executive Order No. 13607 and Public Law 112-249, the Improving Transparency in Educational Information for Veterans Act. Gallucci also took the opportunity to highlight persistent hurdles preventing veterans from completing academic programs, such as the inability for many veterans to qualify for in-state tuition at public colleges and universities as a result of their military service.
The VFW, Student Veterans of America and the American Legion are leading the charge in calling for a swift legislative solution to the in-state tuition issue. Advocates from all three organizations are also pushing state legislatures to take action to ensure that affected schools can easily comply.
At the NASAA panel, state approving agencies continued to call for changes to regulations that have thrust agencies into performing compliance surveys for VA, rather than inspecting academic programs. The panelists agreed it was time for Congress to host a hearing on the evolving rolls of the state approving agencies to ensure that student-veterans’ needs can be met in higher education.
At the NAVPA panel, school certifying officials discussed major challenges facing schools and veterans who receive overpayments and subsequent collections from VA for the GI Bill. NAVPA is calling on VA to publish formal regulations on how debt collections will be managed, and for VA to improve business processes to eliminate duplicate collections, erroneous collections, and inconsistent reporting.
NAVPA Vice President Kim Hall from Humbolt State University discussed the issue before the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee for Economic Opportunity on Thursday. To read NAVPA’s testimony and to view a webcast of the hearing, click here.
Your VFW was honored to participate on each panel, offering a leading voice in advocating for today’s student-veterans. Your VFW will continue to push Congress on the issues of in-state tuition, the role of SAAs and VA’s debt collection system in the coming months. Check back regularly for updates.