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Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Improve GI Bill Work Study Program for Veterans and Dependents

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Washington, June 27, 2019 | Samantha Gonzalez (202-225-3527) | comments

Today, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.), the Ranking Member of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), and Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.), the Chairwoman of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Technology Modernization, introduced H.R. 3535, the GI Bill Work Study Improvement Act of 2019. The bill would improve the timeliness of payments to veterans and other students through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) work-study program.

“For years, the GI Bill work-study program has paired veterans and other students with jobs in their school or at local VA facilities, allowing them to focus on their studies and earn extra money helping veterans," said Roe. "However, VA’s increasing inability to process work study benefits in a consistent or timely manner means that some students are now waiting weeks without getting paid for their work. The GI Bill Work Study Improvement Act of 2019 would stop that unacceptable practice in its tracks by improving the processes by which students receive payments from VA. Under our bill, students would be paid directly by their school, similar to how Federal work- study payments are made by the Department of Education. This way they will be able to rest assured that they will be paid on-time and in-full by experienced school administrators and VA claims processors will be able to focus on other pressing needs within VA. I thank the Student Veterans of America for bringing this issue to our attention and for their steadfast support of this bill and of student veterans everywhere.”

“This bipartisan bill will accomplish what schools and veterans in my district have been asking for, which is to ensure veterans within the VA Work Study program are prioritized," said Davis. "Under the current process, many veterans are waiting weeks without getting paid for their work. By allowing colleges and universities to administer the program, as they do other federal work study programs, we can make sure our veterans are paid on-time and in-full for the work they do. I appreciate my colleague Rep. Lee for helping make this a bipartisan effort and to Ranking Member Roe for visiting my district last year, hearing the concerns from schools and veterans, and working with us to take action.”

“It’s our duty in Congress to give our student veterans any and every resource to succeed in school while remaining financially stable,” said Lee “Work-study programs are a great way for student veterans to keep a steady income to pay rent, car payments, groceries, and to help support their families while working towards their degree. Unfortunately, veterans using the work-study program at the VA are often met with delays and complications, which can leave them without pay for weeks. The GI Bill Work Study Improvement Act would fix the outdated system by streamlining the work-study payment process and reducing the red tape between the VA and student veterans participating in work-study. This is a step in the right direction towards ensuring that no veteran will have trouble making ends meet while working towards their college degree.”

The bill is supported by the Student Veterans of America, who issued the following statement: 

"The need for a modernized VA work-study program that operates similarly to Federal work-study is a consistent concern raised by our SVA Chapter leaders," said Lauren Augustine, the Vice President of Government Affairs for the Student Veterans of America. "This bill mirrors the mechanics of Federal work-study while providing student veterans and their support systems on campus the ability to remove existing bureaucratic roadblocks to make VA work-study a program that truly serves the needs of student veterans. These changes would provide VA the best opportunity to focus the resources needed to better serve student veterans holistically. We thank Representatives Roe, Lee and Davis for their leadership on this issue."

Background: 

The VA work-study program provides eligible students using the GI Bill with VA-paid job opportunities at their school, at a VA facility, or in other jobs that help veterans in higher education. Recently, students and their advocates have raised serious concerns about payment delays under the work-study program. The GI Bill Work Study Improvement Act of 2019 would streamline the VA work-study payment process to make it a timelier and more reliable source of income for veterans and other students. Click here for more information.

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