Bilirakis Bill to Protect Veterans Passes the House
Washington, DC: Congressman Gus Bilirakis’s bill, the Servicemembers Improved Transition through Reforms for Ensuring Progress (SIT-REP) Act, passed the House today. This legislation ensures Veterans are held harmless from any penalties that their school may impose due to potential delays in the processing of their tuition payments. There are several steps involved when Veterans apply for their GI bill education benefits. To complete this process, some information must be provided by the Veteran, and other information is required to be verified directly by the school. This multi-tiered process can cause delays in payment; however, the school has the guarantee of the federal government that they will ultimately be paid. As a result of these delays, some schools put a hold on a student’s accounts or compel the student to begin an out of pocket payment plan of tuition and fees. The SIT-REP Act puts a stop to this practice.
“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. 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,” said Congressman Bilirakis.
Among the many organizations supporting this important legislation is The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), a national group which provides direct services and advocacy on behalf of those who have lost a military family member. “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, TAPS Director of Survivor Advocacy.