Opening Statement of Hon. Bruce L. Braley, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity
Thank you Mr. Chairman for conducting this hearing today, I look forward to discussing the President’s recently issued executive order.
The purpose of the Post-9/11 GI Bill is to provide our service members, veterans, and their dependents with access to a quality education. Although many policy changes have taken place since the implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, we continue to provide oversight on this generous veterans education benefits. And we owe it to veterans and taxpayers to make sure money for this program is being spent wisely.
Veterans deserve to have accessible, standardized information regarding educational institutions and degree programs in order to make informed choices on how best to get the education they have earned under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Unfortunately, I have heard some reports of aggressive and deceptive targeting of service members and veterans by some educational institutions.
As US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously stated, “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” I agree, and that is why I am pleased the Administration is trying to address these abuses through an Executive Order that provides service members and veterans with the information they need to make informed choices and to find the best educational institutions and course of study that are right for them.
The Executive Order was prompted in part by a call for action from thirteen different veteran and service member groups when they wrote a memo called the “Military & Veteran Students Educational Bill of Rights.” The order establishes Principles of Excellence for educational institutions. These Principles provide added enforcement, oversight, and most importantly transparency for prospective students seeking to use their Post-9/11 GI Bill.
The Principles would require that educational institutions collect and provide information to help prospective students make an informed decision when deciding on an educational program. Participating institutions will provide detailed information such as a “Know Before You Owe" form, which discloses information about tuition and fees, financial aid, estimated student loan debt upon graduation, and graduation rates.
These Principles will aid in making informed educational decisions. By providing needed information in an easily-accessible form, Executive Order 13607 will help curb fly-by-night recruiting techniques, and provide protections to service members whose deployment may require short absences.
This information is critical for veterans, a good number of whom may be the first in their families to attend college. It is imperative that we provide these veterans, and all of our veterans, with the tools they need as they work their way through the college application process.
I do not believe there is such a thing as “too much information” to provide veterans and service members making decisions that will affect the rest of their lives.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses and from the VA on the steps they are taking to implement this Executive Order and make the Post-9/11 GI Bill the keystone veterans benefit for the 21st Century.
Thank you Mr. Chairman and I yield back.