Higgins Announces Approval of Bill Expanding GI Bill Benefits

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Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced approval of H.R. 3218, The Harry W Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017.  The bipartisan bill, cosponsored by Higgins, is the most significant update to the GI Bill since passage of the Post 9/11 GI Bill in 2008.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill veterans have up to 15 years to use their education benefits.  For several years Congressman Higgins has advocated for removing the arbitrary education credit deadline.  H.R. 3218 mirrors portions of Higgins’ “Veterans Education Flexibility Act” eliminating the 15-year time limit on education benefits for veterans who completed active duty on or after January 1, 2013.  The 15-year expiration date is also eliminated for the children and spouses of deceased service members eligible for benefits between 2013 and present.

A 2010 Veteran’s Administration study found that 21% of veterans do not take advantage of their education benefits under the GI Bill because they had expired before they intended to use them.  Today many veterans postpone their education to join the workforce and support their family or to undergo extensive rehabilitation as a result of service related injuries.

Like previous updates to the GI Bill, the education credits for veterans can be used for college, technical programs, or vocational programs.  In addition to its 85 bipartisan cosponsors, The Harry W Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 is supported by many veteran service and higher education organizations including Student Veterans of America, The American Legion, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Vietnam Veterans of America, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

More information about education benefits for veterans can be found at: http://benefits.va.gov/gibill/.

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