T he federal government offers two major financial aid programs that offer substantial benefits to help veterans and service members attend college. The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act provides eligible veterans and their families with financial support for education and housing. Since the Act’s passage, hundreds of thousands of veterans have received benefits under the program to attend more than 6,500 colleges and universities. The program receives billions of dollars each year in government funding. Current service members can participate in the Defense Department’s Tuition Assistance (T.A.) program. Hundreds of thousands of service members participate in the T.A. program each year and annual expenditures total over half a billion dollars.

University and college participation in these programs entails many specific compliance obligations. In particular, both programs are subject to the Principles of Excellence set forth in Executive Order (E.O.) 13607, issued by the President last April. The E.O. is designed to provide certain protections to service members and veterans and to ensure that they have the information needed to make informed decisions about their education. Pursuant to the E.O., the Department of Defense and the Veterans Affairs Department require all institutions that receive funding under veterans and military education benefits programs to comply with Principles to the extent permitted by law. The E.O. also calls for increased enforcement and compliance mechanisms, including a centralized complaint system.

The E.O. requires many new institutional obligations with respect to students who are service members or veterans, including:

  • •  • Providing students prior to enrollment with a standardized form disclosing the total cost of the education program, the type and amount of available financial aid, and estimated loan debt upon graduation (among other items)
  • •  Providing information to students about eligibility for Title IV financial aid
  • •  Readmitting service members to programs and making other accommodations if they are temporarily unable to attend due to service obligations
  • •  Providing detailed education plans
  • •  Designating a campus point of contact for academic, financial and disability advising and counseling

In addition, the Defense Department recently instituted new compliance obligations for institutions that receive funds under the Defense Department’s T.A. program for service members. Specifically, by March 1, 2013, institutions must sign a Defense Department Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in order to participate in the T.A. program. Institutions that have not signed the MOU by March 1 will not be eligible to participate in the Tuition Assistance program until they have signed the MOU.

This program will review the main features of federal student financial aid programs for veterans and service members. It will then look in detail at the new compliance obligations embodied in the Principles of Excellence and the DoD MOU for the service member Tuition Assistance program. It will then conclude with a look at recent and proposed legislation and expected regulations or guidance affecting these programs.

Take this opportunity to join our experienced panelists and be sure your institution is up to date on the key compliance requirements for participation in these important military financial aid programs. Register today!