It’s long been one of my pet peeves that we’ve become a “every kid should go to college” society. Plenty of kids shouldn’t go to college. Furthermore, there is still a need for skilled workers in our country: Electricians, pipe-fitters, welders and so on. A skilled welder can easily make a six-figure income nowadays, and we aren’t doing enough to encourage kids to go into the trades.
When veterans return home after serving our nation, they should be welcomed with open arms by their local communities who stand ready to help with reentry to civilian life. For many veterans, successful reentry hinges upon pursuing higher education, including at a career or vocational school.
Legislation recently introduced by U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) will take these efforts a step further by removing the ability of veterans and active military to use their GI Bill or DOD tuition assistance at career and vocational schools.
These efforts are reflective of a disturbing pattern by some in Congress who have long shielded public and non-profit colleges from the same transparency mechanisms required of proprietary schools. It’s worth noting that Congresswoman Shalala previously served as President of the University of Miami, which is a school that would be excluded from her proposed legislation.
Currently the 90/10 rule, a federal student aid eligibility rule that requires proprietary schools to derive at least 10 percent of their revenues from sources other than federal aid, allows GI Bill benefits to be accounted for under that 10 percent. By counting the GI Bill against a school’s compliance with the 90/10 rule, this bill groups veterans in with all federal aid borrowers. But the GI bill is different. Veterans earned these benefits and should be able to use them how they choose. Such a drastic change would completely redefine the very nature of veterans benefits by considering them equivalent to federal subsidies.
What’s worse, this legislation has very serious potential to negatively impact nearly 260 career schools serving over 158,000 student veterans. This comes at a time when in 2018 alone, over 326,000 veterans were unemployed.
This bit of horse’s-assery puts barriers in the way of veterans leaving the service who are seeking a transition to a profitable civilian career. If I read this right, one could use GI Bill money to obtain a four-year degree in Ethnic Underwater Dog-Polishing, but not a two-year Associate’s degree in computer networking or CNC machining.
Which one of those, I ask you, is more useful to the American economy? Which one will yield a better career to the veteran student? I think the answer is obvious.
Rep. Shalala aims to do our veterans a grave, shameful disservice. She should be ashamed of herself. Unfortunately, shame seems to be a commodity that is in short supply in the Imperial City these days.