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Submission For The Record of William D. Stephens, National Association of State Approving Agencies, President

The National Association of State Approving Agencies (NASAA) is providing general support for the proposed changes to the Post 9/11 GI Bill.  These bills will make improvements to an already outstanding piece of legislation. 

NASAA has long held the view that the GI Bill(s) should be the premier educational assistance program in the nation, bar none.  No other Federal program should come close to providing the same level of educational opportunities and financial support as the GI Bill.  This philosophy is based upon the deep belief that those who have and those who continue to defend the freedoms that we all so thoroughly enjoy deserve no less.  

With the above in mind, we are pleased to add our support for these bills and encourage Congress to enact them before the close of the 111th Congress.  We are especially pleased with the provisions which expand opportunities for veterans to use their earned Chapter 33 benefits for pursuit of educational programs at institutions other than institutions of higher learning (non-college degree institutions, apprenticeships and other on-the-job training establishments, flight training programs and correspondence courses).  We also are pleased with provisions that expand eligibility for receipt of a housing allowance to include Chapter 31 veterans, include service under Chapter 32 for establishing eligibility, expand reimbursement for multiple tests leading to licensure and certification, and increase the reporting fee paid. 

Finally, we would like to offer a general comment on one of the provisions of the bills and offer a recommendation for consideration. It is our understanding that the original language and intent of Senate Bill 22 (introduced by Senator Webb in the 110th Congress) was to mirror as closely as possible the WWII GI Bill.  The changes being considered for public institutions of higher learning seem to reflect this philosophy whereas for private institutions there is a ceiling on the amount of assistance that can be provided.  We realize there are financial constraints, but again encourage providing the highest amount possible. 

Thank you for your hard work to improve the Post 9/11 GI Bill.  We applaud your efforts and are very pleased to provide our support.  As stated, these bills have many great features which will provide the kind of opportunities and support needed by our nation’s service members and veterans to help them pursue their career goals. 

If you have any questions please contact Skip Gebhart (304-558-0263, gebhart@hepc.wvnet.edu), Jim Bombard (212-564-8414 or e-mail jbombard@)veterans.state.ny.us) or me.