Ore. lawmakers say VA shortchanging students
Oregon lawmakers said Tuesday they wrote to the Veterans Administration to object to regulations which shortchange Oregon veterans going to college under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
In a letter to VA Director of Education Services Robert Worley, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) along with Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.) urged the VA to change the regulations governing how the Post 9-11 GI Bill housing allowance is paid to reflect the cost of living where students actually live and attend classes.
“In many cases where schools have created urban satellite campuses to cater to city populations, veterans are not receiving the full benefit they have earned,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “We strongly believe veterans should receive their housing allowance based on where they actually study and live.”
Veterans going to school under the GI Bill receive a housing allowance to offset their cost of living. Under the VA’s current regulations, that allowance is based on the cost of living where the college’s administrative offices are located, not where the student attends classes.
In the case of the Oregon Institute of Technology, those offices are based in rural Klamath Falls. Veterans enrolled at the college’s Wilsonville campus on the outskirts of Portland receive the same housing allowance as those studying in Klamath Falls, where the cost of living is considerably less. It has resulted in the loss of $7,000 per year for any student studying at the more expensive satellite campus.
The VA has suggested that instead of changing the regulations to reflect the housing market where a satellite campus is located, that colleges create secondary administrative facilities at those locations at their own expense in order to satisfy the requirements.
“Unfortunately, this strategy would require universities to fund multiple business offices, registrars, student-record centers, veterans-certification records and other functions,” the lawmakers continued. “These redundancies would create significant cost during a time when the price of education is justifiably being scrutinized by parents, students, and government agencies.”
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