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Chronological digest of basic act and amendments—Continued
Public Law 610, 81st Cong -
Veterans' Education and Training Amendments of July 13, 1950
1950. Amends title II of the Servicemen's Readjust-
Mr. COILE. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, with your permission I will give a short summary of the provisions of this bill that differ from the existing Servicemen's Readjustment Act.
Paragraph 1 has to do with the entitlement to the benefit. The draft bill returns to a principle that was contained in the Servicemen's Readjustment Act enacted in 1944—that is, it makes a distinction between the man whose education has been interrupted and the person who entered the service and did not have his training and education interrupted.
Furthermore, it contains a provision whereby a man who had not passed his twenty-third birthday will be deemed to have had his education interrupted by virtue of his entrance into service. Senator AIKEN. Why was that age selected?
. Mr. COILE. It being an age that ordinarily a person would graduate from college I think is the principal reason for its selection.
Senator AIKEN. Would the serviceman, who was taking the benefits already and again had his educational studies interrupted, be eligible for further benefits even though he was over the age of 23?
Mr. COILE. Yes, if he can establish the fact that his education was interrupted he would be entitled to full benefits.
Senator AIKEN. I was thinking of some of the boys in the Reserves.
Mr. COILE. Of course, the age of 23 is simply an age whereby there is established a conclusive presumption that a man below that age will have had his education interrupted. The man above that age may establish that fact.
Senator AIKEN. I see.
Mr. COILE. Now for those whose education was interrupted the maximum period of entitlement is a month-to-month equivalent to the time they spend in active service to a maximum of 4 years. In the case of the others it is a month-to-month entitlement up
for refresher training.
The bill also differs from the present law in that it establishes a shorter date in which a man must commence his training, a shorter period of time after he leaves service, being reduced from 4 years as contained in the present bill to 2 years, as in this bill.
Furthermore the date on which the program is to be brought to a conclusion is somewhat shorter, 7 years being contained in the draft bill while the Servicemen's Readjustment Act or the GI bill allows 9 years.
Those briefly summarize the principal differences in the first paragraph having to do with eligibility and entitlement.
In paragraph 2 there are also some fundamental differences. This paragraph makes it plain that entitlement is to a course, not to a period of time.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you mean paragraph or section?
Mr. COILE. This paragraph specifies that entitlement is to a course, not to a period of time, and the course concept here is in terms of an educational or vocational objective to assist the veterans in readjustment. The man will select the objective. The bill contemplates, I think, that the Veterans' Administration will assist him in every way possible in a selection of such an objective if the man so desires.
The Veterans' Administration thinks this is a sound provision under the conditions that will obtain during the lifetime of this bill, as far as now can be foreseen, in that there will be no mass demobilization such as occurred after the last war, but there will be a relatively uniform number of veterans who will be released from the armed services each year to return to their civilian pursuits.
Senator Aiken. I have been looking over your table of probable costs. Is that estimate something like 500,000 a year that will avail themselves of the educational opportunities?
Mr. COILE. Not immediately, you understand, but after we have had it in operation.
Senator AIKEN. After 2 or 3 years?
Now although these provisions preserve the right for the veteran to select his own course or objective it also prescribes in the basic law the conditions under which the objective may be changed or revised. We also think that this is a desirable feature of the bill. First because the veteran must seriously plan the goal he wishes to reach before embarking on a course and, second, because it will tend to reduce problems that have arisen in administering the present law wherein it has been difficult to relate a variety of apparently unrelated courses to a real objective.
This paragraph also continues the provision whereby certain courses are presumed to be avocational or recreational unless the veteran establishes a vocational purpose.
Passing to paragraph 4, there are a number of changes from the existing law. This paragraph permits enrollment in a school operated for profit only if the school has 25 students or one-third of the total enrollments, whichever is larger, paying all of their own tuition. We think that this provision would be helpful in materially reducing two difficulties that have been evident in the administration of the present law.
First, it assures the veteran and the Government that the quality of the training is sufficiently worth while for other students to select it in a free market-that is, on a competitive basis.
Secondly, in conjunction with the provisions of paragraph 5 as written, it fixes a going cost of tuition for the veteran and the Government to pay, which cost can be accepted as a fair price with a considerable degree of assurance since it has been established through usual competitive practices.
Some of the most serious problems that have been encountered in the administration of the present bill have been concerned with the amount of money that the Government could reasonably pay for a course of education or training, particularly in schools that have had almost exclusively veterans enrolled in their courses.
The negotiations of the proper amount of tuition to be paid has plagued both the schools and the Government. We believe that these provisions as contained in this bill would greatly if not completely remove that very serious difficulty that has been encountered, and for that reason we look with favor upon that provision.
Senator AIKEN. This does not apply to nonprofit schools?
Mr. COILE. This does not apply to nonprofit schools. The concept there is the customary cost of tuition.
A second beneficial effect would accrue in that the provision would constitute a measure of assurance that a school will not cease to operate when the veteran enrollment declines to a point where it is no longer profitable for the school to continue in existence.
Parenthetically I might add that we feel there are going to be a great many schools that will close their doors when the veteran enrollment drops to the point where it makes it no longer profitable for the school to operate. That would be true of schools that cater almost exclusively to veterans; that will not be true of schools that have a substantial nonveteran enrollment.
The tragedy to veterans that are thrown out of their courses without having their courses completed would be something that it would be well to avoid in the future.
Paragraph 5, which makes provision for determining the payments to be made to educational training institutions, also has a number of features that are not found in the present law.
First, it requires all veterans who receive subsistence allowance to share 50–50 in the tuition payments. The Government pays half, and the veteran pays half. In other words, the veteran thereby has a stake and in effect relieves the Government for negotiating a rate to be paid to that institution.
Secondly, it eliminates the concept of a so-called adjusted rate of tuition where an institution desires a payment for teaching costs and instructional supplies in excess of its customary tuition charges. The present law permits the Veterans Administration to fix such an adjusted rate and to pay it even though it is higher than the established tuition charges of that institution.
Senator AIKEN. Would there be any likelihood that some colleges might lower their tuition charges and up their charges for subsistence ?
Mr. COILE. I am not sure that I fully understand, but if I do understand I think that the safeguard is that the veteran, paying a part of the bill out of his own pocket, would himself resist the upping of tuition.
Senator AIKEN. I mean lower the tuition. Would it make it any easier if we suppose that the tuition is $500 a year and if the school
reduced the tuition to $300? So long as he is going to pay it himself, would there be a gain to the student?
Mr. COILE. Yes.
Senator AIKEN. Suppose they drop the tuition from $500 to $200 and added the amount to the board costs?
Mr. COILE. If you lower the tuition, of course, the veteran would benefit in the amount of 50 percent.
Senator AIKEN. That is right.
Mr. COILE. Of course, if they up their board and room, then he would be adversely affected.
Senator AIKEN. Would that just about offset what he would save on the other?
Mr. COILE. I do not know how to predict that, Senator, but I think that the tendency of an institution would be to keep its charges as reasonable as it could on the basis of the enrollment that it might anticipate, veteran and nonveteran. The adjusted tuition charge that is now in the present law applies principally to institutions of higher learning that have low tuition rates but high instructional costs.
It was a provision of the law, I think, that anticipated the very large enrollment of veterans that colleges would be expected to accept and therefore would need some relief over and above the amount they charged an ordinary student for tuition. But again, with a different situation obtaining in this bill from that which obtained when we had millions of people demobilized after World War II within a few months, the Congress might be well justified in concluding that an adjusted rate of tuition for such institutions is not justified.
The third change is that this law omits the provisions contained in the present law for payment of charges of tuition in excess of the rate of $500 in an ordinary school year where the veteran elects to have such charges paid. There is no such provision in this draft.
Furthermore, a very important change is that this law makes no provision for the Government to pay directly for books, supplies, and equipment in the veteran's behalf. However, the following paragraph, that is, paragraph 6, does make provision for increased payments to the veteran to enable him to purchase his own books and supplies.
Again this has been one of the areas of very great difficulty in administering the present provisions of the bill. It has not been: satisfactory to institutions, it has not been satisfactory to the Government. There have been difficulties on the part of institutions in determining just what should be granted to a veteran in terms of books and supplies, and there have been difficulties also on the side of the Government in determining whether or not the Government is. being asked to pay for unreasonable supplies.
It has been very difficult to establish controls over that. We think this provision of the law whereby the veteran would be made responsible for the purchase of his own books and supplies would be very desirable.
Paragraph 6 that pertains to the payments to the veterans also makes a number of material changes. First it provides that subsistence allowance will be paid in arrears after attendance has been certified each month. This provision if enacted would tend to greatly reduce the problem of overpayments of subsistence allowance that had been encountered in the administration of the present law.
The amount of overpayments of subsistence allowance where we have continued payments although a man was discontinued in his course has been very substantial, and it has involved a great deal of administrative expense and trouble to recapture those overpayments. There are considerable amounts that are still outstanding.
Second, it increases the present rates of subsistence allowance by $5 a month and makes the veteran responsible for the purchase of his own books, supplies, and equipment.
Third, it omits the present concept of "leave” and defines the exact period during which a veteran can receive subsistence allowance. Again, the leave provisions have been difficult of administration, and we think it is desirable that that matter be clarified.
Fourth, it establishes higher basic rates for full time institutional courses than apply to other types of courses where a veteran earns. while training and pays no subsistence allowance to a veteran who pursues a course on one-fourth time basis.
Fifth, it provides a formula for automatic periodic reduction in subsistence allowance for courses in which veterans receive income for work performed as a part of their course, thereby reducing the Government participation as the veteran's rate of earning progresses upward.
Sixth, it simplifies the administrative process of adjusting subsistence allowance to other wage-earning veteran students.
Finally, it requires 36 hours a week in certain trade courses in order to qualify as full-time training.
I think that the Veterans' Administration because of its experience in the administration of the present law would say that most of these changes, certainly if not all, of them are very desirable for the purpose of simplification of the law and for the elimination or reduction of problem areas that have existed.
The CHAIRMAN. How does a veteran who is not drawing subsistence receive an allowance for books and supplies and matters of that kind?
Mr. COILE. He would get his entire tuition paid rather than half. Senator AIKEN. Would he get the $5?
Mr. COILE. He would not draw any allowance for the books and supplies as the language of the bill now stands, but he would get the full tuition charges paid up to $600 a year.
The next paragraph that I think should be emphasized is paragraph 10 that makes provision for the Government to pay a veteran's travel expenses when the Veterans Administration requires advisement and guidance in connection with the veteran's course. We think this is desirable and would enable us to relieve the veteran of the expense
incurred in coming to a place of advisement.
Senator AIKEN. Does that mean when the veteran comes for advisement in regard to changing a course and getting permission to change a course? Does he usually come to Washington, a regional office, or where would he go!
Mr. COILE. It would be in his regional territory. We do provide it at our regional offices, but under the present law we have had contractual arrangements with a great many institutions to perform that service for us with our personnel to check the work done in those institutions. He would go to one of those places within his own State. It would not be done in Washington.