Rep. Chu Introduces Legislation to Help Veterans Earn Their College Degrees
Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32) introduced the bipartisan Student Veterans Academic Counseling Enhancement Act of 2012 – the Student Veterans ACE Act – to support student veterans pursuing their college degree. Veterans face many challenges to their academic success, from struggling to readjust to civilian life, to navigating academic requirements, finding community among new peers, to properly budgeting their GI Bill benefits. The Student Veterans ACE Act will help ensure student veterans’ academic success by requiring the VA to provide regular, individualized, one-on-one educational counseling on an opt-out basis to all veterans using the GI Bill, regardless of where they go to school. The bill also requires the VA to track veteran graduation rates, for the first time, and helps protect veterans from predatory schools. Rep. Chu released the following statement as her legislation was introduced:
“Students are reporting, over and over, that they are having trouble transitioning to college life. It’s such a different environment for them. Some veterans even say they are more afraid of college than combat. And we have no statistics – no idea – on how many veterans are actually succeeding in school and getting their degree.
“Our military receive training on how to be good service members, yet we don’t give them guidance on how to be successful students. Our troops deserve better; they deserve a consistent point of contact they can reach out to help them along the path to a degree. My bill, the Student Veterans ACE Act, would do just that. It ensures our taxpayer GI Bill dollars are spent responsibly and that we do all we can to help veterans succeed in school and get good jobs.”
The Student Veterans Academic Counseling Enhancement Act of 2012, or Student Veterans ACE Act, is supported by Members from both political parties, and has been endorsed by the American Legion, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The legislation would:
• Require the VA to assign one counselor to every 100 students within a geographic area and provide academic counseling for student veterans once per academic term unless the student declines.
• Require academic counselors to provide academic counseling and transition assistance including discussing, reviewing, and providing guidance on selecting courses, course work, academic goals, degree progress, workload, other academic support services, tutoring, job placement counseling and other relevant topics such as challenges like a drop in grades, change of major, or transferring to another institution; and make sure they are maximizing their GI Bill benefits towards a degree.
• Require the VA to track the number of students receiving counseling, the number who declined or were issued waivers, the number of failing grades earned by students receiving counseling, and the graduation rate of students receiving counseling compared to overall graduation rates.
• Require VA to establish a system to collect, process, and track student veterans’ complaints of fraud, waste and abuse of GI Bill benefits by an educational institution in order to prevent predatory practices by for-profit schools.
• Require the VA to also offer academic counseling services to non-veterans who are entitled to GI Bill benefits on an opt-in basis.