News Releases

Bipartisan legislation, which just cleared the Senate, will make necessary improvements to Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits for student veterans, including nearly 19,000 student veterans in WA

Includes much-needed relief for student veterans who have been defrauded by institutions like Corinthian and ITT Tech

(Washington, D.C.) –  Today, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC) and the Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, applauded Senate passage of bipartisan legislation that seeks to improve veterans’ education benefits and enhance the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. Significantly, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 (S. 1598) eliminates the arbitrary 15-year period within which a veteran is required to use their G.I. Bill so they can use their benefits at any time in life, beginning with new recruits entering service in January 2018. After passing in both the House and the Senate, the legislation is now headed to the President’s desk.

“When young men and women sign up to serve our country, we make a promise to be there for them when they return,” said Sen. Murray, an original cosponsor of the Senate bill. “This legislation is a strong step toward that pledge by making sure those who have served have the tools they need to pursue a high-quality education and a find a career that fits their goals and experience. I’m proud to fight for this legislation, and I will keep doing everything I can to make sure we truly honor our veterans and military families by making sure that schools are held accountable and veterans can fairly use the benefits they earned in their service to our country.”

According to VA, there are currently more than 25,000 G.I. Bill students in Washington state, including nearly 19,000 Post-9/11 G.I. Bill students.

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 makes much-needed updates for reservists; Purple Heart recipients; surviving family members; and, especially important to Sen. Murray, veterans who were defrauded by now-defunct for-profit colleges. Murray has been a leader in holding the U.S. Department of Education to its commitment to students who are still being forced to pay back loans from predatory institutions, including Corinthian and ITT Tech, which defrauded and closed their doors on students. Former veteran students at Corinthian and ITT Tech will have their G.I. Bill benefits fully restored within 90 days of the bill’s signing.

Additionally, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017:

  • Provides G.I. Bill eligibility for reservists mobilized under selected reserve orders for preplanned missions in support of the combatant commands or in response to a major disaster or emergency;
  • Provides G.I. Bill eligibility for reservists undergoing medical care;
  • Provides full G.I. Bill benefits for Purple Heart recipients regardless of length of service;
  • Ensures relief in event of future school closures by restoring G.I. Bill benefits for the credits or training time lost and continuing housing allowances up to 120 days;
  • Extends Yellow Ribbon Program benefits to Fry scholarship recipients;
  • Offers an extension of eligibility for veterans who pursue longer-term science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs or related teaching certifications;
  • Increases G.I. Bill payments by $2,300 per year for veterans with less than 12 months of active service.
  • Improves oversight of schools by state approving agencies with the goal of improving education and training and preventing school closures.

A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here.

The legislation is named in honor of Harry Walter Colmery, an Army Air Service veteran and former national commander of the American Legion who drafted the original G.I. Bill in 1944 to improve the transition for World War II veterans back to civilian life.