Durbin, Bipartisan Senators Introduce Bill To Protect Veterans' Education Benefits

Recent School Closures Have Squandered Billions In Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits And Left Student Veterans With No Hope For Educational Advancement

SPRINGFIELD – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) in introducing bipartisan legislation that would provide relief to veterans whose Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits are affected by the permanent closure of certain educational institutions.

In 2016, ITT Tech filed for bankruptcy and closed all 136 campuses in 38 states – after receiving $917 million in Post-9/11 GI Bill funds – leaving student veterans stranded and unable to reallocate education benefits elsewhere. The Veterans Education Relief and Reinstatement Act (VERRA) would expand the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) authority to restore the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits of veterans who are affected by the permanent closure of ITT Tech or other institutions. Currently, VA cannot fully restore a veterans’ benefits if a school they attend permanently closes.

“Unexpected school closures, like those recently seen in the for-profit college industry, put veterans and their families at risk of being unable to afford their housing. This bipartisan legislation would act as a safety net, allowing veterans to continue receiving critical housing benefits after their schools close. Veterans should not be put out on the streets because of the misconduct of for-profit colleges,” said Senator Durbin.

The legislation is also co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Todd Young (R-IN), Dean Heller (R-NV)  Jack Reed (D-RI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). The legislation is supported by the Student Veterans of America, Veterans Education Success, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the National Guard Association of the United States, and the National Association of State Approving Agencies.

Specifically, VERRA would provide the Department of Veterans Affairs with the authority to:

  • Restore entitlement for individuals, including student veterans affected by the ITT Technical Institutes’ collapse, who pursued a program of education with VA educational assistance and failed to receive credit – or lost training time – toward completion of the individual’s educational, professional, or vocational objective as a result of the closure of their educational institution.
  • Continue monthly educational assistance payments – including housing allowance – through the end of the term, quarter, or sem