< Back to H.R. 5684 (110th Congress, 2007–2009)

Text of the Veterans Education Improvement Act of 2008

This bill was introduced on April 30, 2008, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Apr 2, 2008 (Introduced).

Source: GPO

I

110th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 5684

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

April 2, 2008

(for herself and Mr. Boozman) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Education and Labor, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

A BILL

To amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the basic educational assistance program administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title; table of contents

(a)

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Veterans Education Improvement Act of 2008.

(b)

Table of contents

The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Increase in amount of basic educational assistance.

Sec. 3. Extension of time limitation for use of eligibility and entitlement to educational assistance.

Sec. 4. Monthly stipend for recipients of educational assistance allowance.

Sec. 5. Extension of period for collection of fee for basic educational assistance.

Sec. 6. Use of educational assistance for business courses and seminars.

Sec. 7. Use of educational assistance for courses taken to prepare for licensing or certification tests.

Sec. 8. Use of educational assistance to repay Federal student loans.

Sec. 9. Opportunity to withdraw election not to enroll in educational assistance program.

Sec. 10. Montgomery GI Bill benefits not to reduce financial aid.

Sec. 11. Extension of increase in benefit for certain individuals pursuing apprenticeships or on-job training.

Sec. 12. Modification of amount available for reimbursement of State and local agencies administering veterans education benefits.

Sec. 13. Provision of basic educational assistance benefits for veterans discharged from active duty with general discharge.

Sec. 14. Increase in amount of reporting fee payable to educational institutions that enroll veterans receiving educational assistance.

Sec. 15. Provision of additional areas of work-study for veterans.

Sec. 16. 5-year pilot program for on-campus work-study positions.

Sec. 17. Increase in employees for Education Service.

Sec. 18. Upgrade of certain information technology.

Sec. 19. Modification of advance payment of initial educational assistance or subsistence allowance.

2.

Increase in amount of basic educational assistance

(a)

Increase

Section 3015 of title 38, United States Code, is amended—

(1)

in subsection (a)(1)—

(A)

in subparagraph (A), by striking January 1, 2002, $800 and inserting January 1, 2009, $1,450;

(B)

by striking subparagraphs (B) and (C); and

(C)

by redesignating subparagraph (D) as subparagraph (B); and

(2)

in subsection (b)(1)—

(A)

in subparagraph (A), by striking January 1, 2002, $650 and inserting January 1, 2009, $1,250;

(B)

by striking subparagraphs (B) and (C); and

(C)

by redesignating subparagraph (D) as subparagraph (B).

(b)

Effective date

The amendments made by subsection (a) shall apply with respect to a payment of educational assistance for a month beginning after the date that is 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

3.

Extension of time limitation for use of eligibility and entitlement to educational assistance

(a)

Extension of time limitation

Section 3031 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking 10-year period each place it appears and inserting 15-year period.

(b)

Effective date

The amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply with respect to an individual who is entitled to educational assistance under chapter 30 of such title on the date that is 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act or who becomes entitled to educational assistance under such chapter after such date.

4.

Monthly stipend for recipients of educational assistance allowance

(a)

Entitlement to monthly stipend

Subchapter II of chapter 30 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

3020A.

Educational stipend

(a)

Entitlement

Each individual who is receiving educational assistance under this chapter and who is pursuing a program of education at an institution of higher learning (as such term is defined in section 3452(f) of this title) is entitled to an educational stipend under this section.

(b)

Amount of stipend

An educational stipend under this section shall be paid to an individual who is entitled to such a stipend—

(1)

in the case of an individual pursuing an approved program of education on at least a half-time basis, at the monthly rate of $500; and

(2)

in the case of an individual pursuing an approved program of education on less than a half-time basis, at the monthly rate of $250.

.

(b)

Clerical amendment

The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by adding at the end of the items relating to subchapter II the following new item:

3020A. Educational stipend.

.

(c)

Effective date

Section 3020A of title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a) shall take effect on the date that is two years after the date of the enactment of this Act and shall apply with respect to months beginning after that date.

5.

Extension of period for collection of fee for basic educational assistance

(a)

Basic educational assistance for service on active duty

Section 3011(b)(1) of title 38, United States Code, is amended—

(1)

by striking $100 and inserting $50; and

(2)

by striking 12 and inserting 24.

(b)

Basic educational assistance for service in the Selected Reserve

Section 3012(c)(1) of such title is amended—

(1)

by striking $100 and inserting $50; and

(2)

by striking 12 and inserting 24.

(c)

Effective date

The amendments made by this section shall take effect on the date that is 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

6.

Use of educational assistance for business courses and seminars

(a)

Basic educational assistance

Section 3452(b) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new sentence: Such term also includes business courses and seminars, if such courses or seminars are related to the operation of a business. Such term also includes continuing education courses, as designated by the Secretary..

(b)

Survivors’ and dependents’ educational assistance

Section 3501(a)(5) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new sentences: Such term also includes business courses and seminars, if such courses or seminars are related to the operation of a business. Such term also includes continuing education courses, as designated by the Secretary..

(c)

Effective date

The amendments made by subsections (a) and (b) shall take effect on the date that is two years after the date of the enactment of this Act.

7.

Use of educational assistance for courses taken to prepare for licensing or certification tests

(a)

Basic educational assistance

Section 3452(b) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the fourth sentence the following new sentence: Such term also includes preparatory courses for licensing or certification tests described in the preceding sentence, as designated by the Secretary..

(b)

Survivors’ and dependents’ educational assistance

Section 3501(a)(5) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the second sentence the following new sentence: Such term also includes preparatory courses for licensing or certification tests described in the preceding sentence, as designated by the Secretary..

(c)

Effective date

The amendments made by subsections (a) and (b) shall take effect on the date that is two years after the date of the enactment of this Act.

8.

Use of educational assistance to repay Federal student loans

(a)

In general

Subchapter II of chapter 30 of title 38, United States Code, as amended by section 4, is further amended by inserting after section 3020A the following new section:

3020B.

Use of educational assistance benefits for the repayment of Federal student loans for certain courses of education

(a)

Use of benefits

Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, an individual who is serving on active duty and who is entitled to educational assistance under this subchapter may apply amounts of such educational assistance otherwise available to the individual to repay some or all of any Federal student loan balance owed by the individual for a course of education.

(b)

Limitation on payments

(1)

The amount of an individual’s entitlement to educational assistance that the individual may apply to the repayment of a student loan balance under subsection (a) may not exceed $6,000 in any 12-month period.

(2)

In no event shall payment of educational assistance under this section exceed the amount of the individual’s available entitlement under this chapter.

(c)

Amount of payments

The Secretary shall make monthly payments under this section in such amounts as the individual may elect for the repayment of a Federal student loan of such an individual.

(d)

Arrangements To make payments

The Secretary shall enter into such arrangements, and shall prescribe such regulations, as may be necessary to carry out this section.

(e)

Federal student loan defined

In this section, the term Federal student loan means any loan made under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1070 et seq.).

.

(b)

Clerical amendment

The table of sections of subchapter II of chapter 30 of such title is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 3020 the following new item:

3020B. Use of educational assistance benefits for the repayment of Federal student loans for certain courses of education.

.

(c)

Effective Date

Section 3020B of title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a) shall apply with respect to educational assistance paid for months beginning after the date that is two years after the date of the enactment of this Act.

9.

Opportunity to withdraw election not to enroll in educational assistance program

(a)

Basic educational assistance for active duty service

(1)

Opportunity to withdraw

Subsection (c) of section 3011 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(4)

An individual who makes an election not to receive educational assistance under paragraph (1) may withdraw that election at any time and, after making such withdrawal, shall be entitled to educational assistance under this chapter in the same manner as if the individual had never made that election, if—

(A)

at the time the individual makes such withdrawal, the individual is serving on active duty as a member of the Armed Forces; and

(B)

the basic pay of the individual is reduced by, or the individual otherwise pays to the Secretary, $1,200 by not later than 90 days after the date on which the individual is discharged or released from active duty in the Armed Forces.

.

(2)

Conforming amendment

Paragraph (1) of such subsection is amended in the third sentence by striking Any individual and inserting Except as provided in paragraph (4), any individual.

(b)

Basic educational assistance for service in the Selected Reserve

(1)

Opportunity to withdraw

Subsection (d) of section 3012 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(4)

An individual who makes an election not to receive educational assistance under paragraph (1) may withdraw that election at any time and, after making such withdrawal, shall be entitled to educational assistance under this chapter in the same manner as if the individual had never made that election, if—

(A)

at the time the individual makes such withdrawal, the individual is serving on active duty as a member of the Armed Forces; and

(B)

the basic pay of the individual is reduced by, or the individual otherwise pays to the Secretary, $1,200 by not later than 90 days after the date on which the individual is discharged or released from active duty in the Armed Forces.

.

(2)

Conforming amendment

Paragraph (1) of such subsection is amended in the third sentence by striking Any individual and inserting Except as provided in paragraph (4), any individual.

(c)

Effective date

The amendments made by subsections (a) and (b) shall take effect on the date that is 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act and shall apply with respect to an individual who is serving on active duty as a member of the Armed Forces on or after that date.

10.

Montgomery GI Bill benefits not to reduce financial aid

(a)

In general

Section 480(j) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1087vv(j)) Act is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1), by striking including veterans’ education benefits as defined in subsection (c), and inserting including, subject to paragraph (4), veterans’ education benefits as defined in subsection (c),; and

(2)

by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(4)

Notwithstanding paragraph (1), estimated financial assistance not received under this title shall not include any veterans’ benefits paid under chapter 30 of title 38, United States Code.

.

(b)

Effective date

The amendments made by subsection (a) shall take effect on the date that is 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

11.

Extension of increase in benefit for certain individuals pursuing apprenticeships or on-job training

(a)

Survivors and dependents

Subsection (c) of such section is amended by striking January 1, 2008 and inserting January 1, 2014.

(b)

Members of the Selected Reserve

Section 103(d) of the Veterans Earn and Learn Act of 2004 (Public Law 108–454; 38 U.S.C. 3032 note) is amended by striking January 1, 2008 and inserting January 1, 2014.

(c)

Certain other individuals

Section 103(a) of the Veterans Earn and Learn Act of 2004 (Public Law 108–454; 38 U.S.C. 3032 note) is amended by striking January 1, 2008 and inserting January 1, 2014.

(d)

Effective date

The amendments made by this section shall take effect on the date that is 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

12.

Modification of amount available for reimbursement of State and local agencies administering veterans education benefits

Section 3674(a)(4) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking $13,000,000 and all that follows through fiscal year 2007,.

13.

Provision of basic educational assistance benefits for veterans discharged from active duty with general discharge

(a)

Active duty service

Section 3011(a)(3)(B) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by inserting or a general discharge (under honorable conditions) before the period at the end.

(b)

Service in Selected Reserve

Section 3012(a)(3)(A) of such title is amended by inserting or a general discharge (under honorable conditions) before the semicolon.

(c)

Effective date

The amendments made by subsections (a) and (b) shall apply with respect to an individual who is discharged from service in the Armed Forces after the date that is 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

14.

Increase in amount of reporting fee payable to educational institutions that enroll veterans receiving educational assistance

(a)

Increase in amount of fee

Subsection (c) of section 3684 of title 38, United States Code, is amended—

(1)

by striking $7 and inserting $21; and

(2)

by striking $11 and inserting $21.

(b)

Technical correction

Subsection (a) of such section is amended by striking the second comma after 34.

(c)

Effective date

The amendments made by subsections (a) and (b) shall take effect on the date that is 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

15.

Provision of additional areas of work-study for veterans

(a)

In general

Subsection (a)(4) of section 3485 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

(G)

The provision of placement services described in section 3104(a)(5) of this title at an educational institution carried out under the supervision of a Department employee.

.

(b)

Work study for students enrolled on half-time basis

Subsection (b) of such section is amended—

(1)

in the first sentence, by striking three-quarters and inserting half; and

(2)

in the third sentence, by striking three-quarter-time and inserting half-time.

(c)

Effective date

The amendments made by this section shall apply with respect to agreements entered into under section 3485 of title 38, United States Code, after the date that is 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

16.

5-year pilot program for on-campus work-study positions

(a)

Establishment of pilot program

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall conduct a five-year pilot project to test the feasibility and advisability of expanding the scope of qualifying work-study activities under subsection (a)(4) of section 3485 of title 38, United States Code, including work-study positions available on site at educational institutions.

(b)

Type of work-study positions

The work-study positions referred to in subsection (a) may include positions in academic departments (including positions as tutors or research, teaching, and lab assistants) and in student services (including positions in career centers and financial aid, campus orientation, cashiers, admissions, records, and registration offices).

(c)

Regulations

The Secretary shall prescribe regulations to carry out the pilot project under this section, including regulations providing for the supervision of work-study positions referred to in subsection (a) by appropriate personnel.

(d)

Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary $10,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2009 through 2012 to carry out the pilot project under this section.

17.

Increase in employees for Education Service

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall increase the number of full-time employees of the Education Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs by 150 additional such employees.

18.

Upgrade of certain information technology

(a)

Action plan required

The General Information Officer of the Department of Veterans Affairs, in coordination with the Director of Education, shall submit to the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate and House of Representatives and action plan describing how the General Information Officer and Director of Education intend to upgrade the information technology system of the Department of Veteran Affairs that is used in connection with the administration of educational benefits under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The General Information Officer and Director of Education shall update the committees at least annually on any progress made in upgrading such system.

(b)

Authorization of appropriations

There is authorized to be appropriated to upgrade the information technology system of the Department of Veteran Affairs that is used in connection with the administration of educational benefits under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs—

(1)

$8,000,000 for fiscal year 2009; and

(2)

$3,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2010, 2011, and 2012.

19.

Modification of advance payment of initial educational assistance or subsistence allowance

(a)

Modification

Section 3680(d)(2) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the third sentence the following new sentence: For purposes of the entitlement to educational assistance of the veteran or person receiving an advance payment under this subsection, the advance payment shall be charged against the final month of the entitlement of the person or veteran and, if necessary, the penultimate such month. In no event may any veteran or person receive more than one advance payment under this subsection during any academic year..

(b)

Effective date

The amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply with respect to an advance payment of educational assistance made after the date that is 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.