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House Passes Gus Bilirakis' Bill Ensuring Student Veterans Not Penalized by Colleges, Universities

May 22, 2018 - 9:30am
Gus Bilirakis
Gus Bilirakis

This week, a Florida Republican congressman scored a win as the U.S. House approved his proposal to make sure veterans are not financially penalized by colleges and universities as they wait for their federal education benefits. 

Back in January, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., the vice chairman of the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee, introduced the “Servicemembers Improved Transition through Reforms for Ensuring Progress (SIT-REP) Act.” Under the proposal, veterans using their GI Bill benefits will not be penalized if the VA delays payment to the school due to the time it takes to process. 

On Monday, the House passed the bill without opposition on a 382-0 vote. Bilirakis weighed in after the vote. 

“I filed this common sense bill in response to several student veterans who were subject to punitive action by their school because it received payment from the VA after a certain deadline,” Bilirakis said. “Veterans should never experience financial harm or denial of access to education due to bureaucratic red tape in processing paperwork at the VA or school.  The GI Bill is already a wonderful benefit that our veterans have earned and this legislation makes the program better.  I urge my Senate colleagues to pass the bill and send it to the president’s desk as quickly as possible.”

Two fellow Florida Republicans--U.S. Reps. Brian Mast and Bill Posey--are original cosponsors. Other supporters of the bill include U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-NC, U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster, D-NH, and U.S. Rep. Beto  O'Rourke, D-Tex. So far, there is no counterpart over in the U.S. Senate. 

The bill does have the support of a host of veterans organizations and groups that help their families including the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) which helps surviving spouses and families. 

“TAPS  is grateful to Representative Bilirakis for promoting this legislation which would provide students receiving VA payments the same protections as those who receive Title IV funding such as Pell Grants and Federal student loans. Student survivors and veterans should not be financially handicapped because of VA and higher education bureaucracy,” said Kathleen Moakler, the director of survivor advocacy for TAPS. 



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