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115th Congress    }                                   {        Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session       }                                   {       115-694

======================================================================



 
                              SIT-REP ACT

                                _______
                                

  May 21, 2018.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

    Mr. Roe of Tennessee, from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 4830]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 4830) to amend title 38, United States Code, to 
provide for the disapproval of any course of education for 
purposes of the educational assistance programs of the 
Department of Veterans Affairs unless the educational 
institution providing the course permits individuals to attend 
or participate in courses pending payment by Department, and 
for other purposes, having considered the same, report 
favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend that the bill 
as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Purpose and Summary..............................................     2
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     3
Hearings.........................................................     4
Subcommittee Consideration.......................................     5
Committee Consideration..........................................     5
Committee Votes..................................................     5
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     5
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............     5
New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures     6
Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits.............................     6
Committee Cost Estimate..........................................     6
Congressional Budget Office Estimate.............................     6
Federal Mandates Statement.......................................     7
Advisory Committee Statement.....................................     7
Constitutional Authority Statement...............................     7
Applicability to Legislative Branch..............................     8
Statement on Duplication of Federal Programs.....................     8
Disclosure of Directed Rulemaking................................     8
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................     8
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill as Reported.............     9

    The amendment is as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Servicemembers Improved Transition 
through Reforms for Ensuring Progress Act'' or the ``SIT-REP Act''.

SEC. 2. DISAPPROVAL FOR PURPOSES OF EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS OF 
                    DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS OF CERTAIN COURSES 
                    OF EDUCATION THAT DO NOT PERMIT INDIVIDUALS TO 
                    ATTEND OR PARTICIPATE IN COURSES PENDING PAYMENT.

  Section 3679 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at 
the end the following new subsection:
  ``(e)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, 
beginning on August 1, 2018, a State approving agency, or the Secretary 
when acting in the role of the State approving agency, shall disapprove 
a course of education provided by an educational institution unless the 
educational institution has adopted the following policies:
          ``(A) A policy that permits any covered individual to attend 
        or participate in the course of education during the period 
        beginning on the date on which the individual provides to the 
        educational institution a certificate of eligibility for 
        entitlement to educational assistance under chapter 31 or 33 of 
        this title and ending on the earlier of the following dates:
                  ``(i) The date on which the Secretary provides 
                payment for such course of education to such 
                institution.
                  ``(ii) The date that is 90 days after the date on 
                which the individual provides to the educational 
                institution such certificate of eligibility.
          ``(B) A policy that ensures that the educational institution 
        will not impose any penalty, including the assessment of late 
        fees, the denial of access to classes, libraries, or other 
        institutional facilities, or the requirement that a covered 
        individual borrow additional funds, on any covered individual 
        because of the individual's inability to meet his or her 
        financial obligations to the institution as a result of the 
        delayed disbursement of any payment to be provided by the 
        Secretary.
  ``(2) For purposes of this subsection, a covered individual is any 
individual who is entitled to educational assistance under chapter 31 
or 33 of this title.
  ``(3) The Secretary may waive such requirements of paragraph (1) as 
the Secretary considers appropriate.''.

SEC. 3. CLARIFICATION REGARDING APPLICABILITY OF AUTHORITY TO USE 
                    EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE TO PURSUE INDEPENDENT STUDY 
                    PROGRAMS AT CERTAIN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS THAT 
                    ARE NOT INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING.

  The section heading for section 302 of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans 
Educational Assistance Act of 2017 (Public Law 115-48) is amended to 
read as follows (and the table of contents for such Act is conformed 
accordingly):

``SEC. 302. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE UNDER ANY 
                    OF THE EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS OF THE 
                    DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS TO PURSUE 
                    INDEPENDENT STUDY PROGRAMS AT CERTAIN EDUCATIONAL 
                    INSTITUTIONS THAT ARE NOT INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER 
                    LEARNING.''.

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 4830, as amended, the ``Servicemembers Improved 
Transition through Reforms for Ensuring Progress Act'' or the 
``SIT-REP Act'' would require that, in order for a school or 
training program to become approved for GI Bill benefits, they 
must adopt a policy that disallows the institution from 
imposing a late fee, denial of access to classes or facilities 
or other penalty on a veteran or their eligible dependent due 
to a late payment from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). 
This would only apply if the payments have not been received 
within ninety days of the beginning of the term and the VA 
Secretary would have the authority to waive this requirement. 
Representative Gus Bilirakis of Florida introduced H.R. 4830 on 
January 18, 2018.

                  Background and Need for Legislation


Section 2. Disapproval for Purposes of Educational Assistance Programs 
        of Department of Veterans Affairs for Certain Courses of 
        Education that do not Permit Individuals to Attend or 
        Participate in Courses Pending Payment.

    Institutions of higher learning (IHL) and other training 
programs that are approved for GI Bill benefits by the State 
Approving Agency (SAA) must certify to VA the courses that an 
eligible individual (i.e. a veteran, servicemember, dependent 
or surviving dependent) is taking at that IHL so that VA can 
then pay the school directly for the necessary tuition and 
fees. In some cases, VA does not issue the payment on the first 
day of the term. This occurs for various reasons, for instance, 
some IHLs wait to certify the individual's classes to VA until 
after the school's add-drop period has passed in the event the 
individual changes their classes so that an overpayment or 
underpayment is not issued by VA to the school. Additionally, 
there can often be delays in the time it takes VA to issue the 
payments and these delays can be increased in peak times of the 
school year, such as January and August when most new school 
terms are beginning. In general, VA processes claims in 16.7 
days for new claims and 6.8 for supplemental claims.
    Veterans organizations have come to the Committee with 
concerns that some schools may require students to take out 
loans or assess unfair late fees, due to the delays that have 
been caused by VA or the school's own certification processes. 
The Committee is also aware of instances where, due to the 
delay in payment from VA, an IHL has restricted an individual's 
access to certain campus facilities until the payment is 
received or until the individual provides the payment on their 
own in lieu of VA's GI Bill payment. The Committee believes 
that the policies some IHLs and training programs have enacted 
are placing an unfair financial burden on individuals for 
something that is out of their control and are not veteran-
friendly policies. At the March 20, 2018 subcommittee 
legislative hearing on several bills, including H.R. 4830, Mr. 
William Hubbard with Student Veterans of America said the 
following in testimony:

          In some cases, families of the fallen have been 
        unfairly targeted with late fees due to the VA's 
        delayed or late payments at no fault of the student. 
        While some schools have received billions of dollars of 
        Post-9/11 GI Bill dollars, we call on higher education 
        as an industry to be flexible with service-affiliated 
        students using VA education benefits, as it is greatly 
        in their interest to find ways to support this 
        important population of non-traditional students. 
        Schools that already provide this level of flexibility 
        to these students should have no additional burden in 
        compliance with these rules, and Student Veterans of 
        America supports the passage of this bill.\1\

    \1\Testimony of Mr. William Hubbard, Vice President of Government 
Affairs, Student Veterans of America before the Subcommittee on 
Economic Opportunity of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs at the 
March 20, 2018 legislative hearing https://docs.house.gov/meetings/VR/
VR10/20180320/108011/HHRG-115-VR10-Wstate-HubbardW-20180320.pdf
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Therefore, this section would require that in order for a 
school or training program to be approved for GI Bill benefits 
they must adopt a policy that disallows the school or training 
program from imposing a late fee, denial of access to classes 
or facilities or other penalty against the veteran or eligible 
dependent due to a late payment from VA. This would only apply 
for individuals receiving educational assistance under chapters 
31 or 33 of title 38, United States Code (U.S.C.). Further, 
this requirement on the schools would only apply if the 
payments have not been received within 90 days of the beginning 
of the term and the Secretary would have the authority to waive 
this requirement as they deem appropriate.

Section 3. Clarification Regarding Applicability of Authority to Use 
        Educational Assistance to Pursue Independent Study Programs at 
        Certain Educational Institutions that are not Institutions of 
        Higher Learning.

    One of the historical values of GI Bill is the ability to 
use education benefits at training and education programs like 
career and technical education that are not at traditional 
institutions of higher education. Prior to passage of the Harry 
W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 or the 
``Forever GI Bill'' (Public Law 115-48), some of these programs 
were being disapproved for GI Bill benefits due to changes in 
how these types of schools provide training. The Committee 
believed that these programs provide another avenue for 
training for GI Bill users to receive an education and the 
growth in use of online education at these schools should be 
approved if the program is appropriately accredited. Section 
302 of the ``Forever GI Bill'' addressed this concern and 
authorized that an eligible individual could use their GI Bill 
benefits at an accredited independent study program (including 
open circuit television) that is an area career and technical 
education school or a postsecondary vocational school providing 
postsecondary level education.
    Unfortunately, the VA did not interpret the language in the 
``Forever GI Bill'' as including surviving dependents who are 
using their benefits under chapter 35 of title 38, U.S.C. That 
disparity was not the intent of the Committee, therefore, 
section 3 would amend the section heading of section 302 of the 
Forever GI Bill to include any individuals who are receiving 
any VA educational assistance benefits as being eligible to 
attend these accredited independent study programs or a 
postsecondary vocational school providing postsecondary level 
education.

                                Hearings

    On March 20, 2018, the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity 
held a legislative hearing on several bills pending before the 
Subcommittee including H.R. 4830.
    The following witnesses testified:
          The Honorable Gus Bilirakis, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 12th District, Florida; The Honorable 
        Brad Wenstrup, U.S. House of Representatives, 2nd 
        District, Ohio; The Honorable Ted Poe, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 2nd District, Texas; The Honorable 
        Luke Messer, U.S. House of Representatives, 6th 
        District, Indiana; The Honorable Steve Russell, U.S. 
        House of Representatives, 5th District, Oklahoma; MG 
        Robert M. Worley II, USAF (Ret.), Director, Education 
        Service, Veterans Benefit Administration, U.S. 
        Department of Veterans Affairs who was accompanied by 
        Mr. Jeffrey London, Director, Loan Guaranty Service, 
        Veterans Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of 
        Veterans Affairs; Mr. John J. Kamin, Assistant 
        Director, Veterans Employment and Education Division, 
        The American Legion; Ms. Ashlynne Haycock, Manager, 
        Education Services, Tragedy Assistance Program for 
        Survivors; and Mr. William Hubbard, Vice President of 
        Government Affairs, Student Veterans of America.
    Statements for the record were submitted by:
          The Honorable Steve Chabot, U.S. House of 
        Representatives, 1st District, Ohio; the U.S. 
        Department of Labor; the National Association of State 
        Approving Agencies; and the National Association of 
        Veterans' Programs Administrators

                       Subcommittee Consideration

    On April 11, 2018, the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity 
met in open markup session, a quorum being present and 
favorably forwarded H.R. 4830, as amended, to the Full 
Committee. During consideration of the bills, the following 
amendment was considered and agreed to by voice vote:
          An amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by 
        Rep. Bilirakis of Florida, which removed individuals 
        who receive benefits under chapters 30 or 35 of title 
        38, U.S.C., from the requirement in section two of the 
        bill as they receive payments directly from VA as 
        opposed to the school receiving the payments. The 
        amendment also inserted the language in section three 
        of the bill, as amended.

                        Committee Consideration

    On May 8, 2018, the full Committee met in open markup 
session, a quorum being present, and ordered H.R. 4830, as 
amended, be favorably reported to the House of Representatives 
by voice vote.

                            Committee Votes

    In compliance with clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, no recorded votes were taken on 
amendments or in connection with ordering H.R. 4830, as 
amended, favorably reported to the House of Representatives.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause 
(2)(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee's oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the descriptive portions of 
this report.

         Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives

    In accordance with clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee's performance 
goals and objectives of H.R. 4830, as amended, are protect 
student veterans and their eligible dependents from being 
penalized by the school they are attending due to a delay in 
payments by VA.

   New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee adopts as its 
own the estimate of new budget authority, entitlement 
authority, or tax expenditures or revenues contained in the 
cost estimate prepared by the Director of the Congressional 
Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional 
Budget Act of 1974.

                  Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits

    H.R. 4830, as amended, does not contain any Congressional 
earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as 
defined in clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives.

                        Committee Cost Estimate

    The Committee adopts as its own the cost estimate on H.R. 
4830, as amended, prepared by the Director of the Congressional 
Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional 
Budget Act of 1974.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the following is the cost estimate 
for H.R. 4830, as amended, is provided by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office. Pursuant to section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                       Washington, DC, May 9, 2018.
Hon. Phil Roe, M.D.,
Chairman, Committee on Veterans' Affairs,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 4830, the 
Servicemembers Improved Transition through Reforms for Ensuring 
Progress Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is David Newman.
            Sincerely,
                                                Keith Hall,
                                                          Director.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 4830--Servicemembers Improved Transition through Reforms for 
        Ensuring Progress Act

    The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pays for the 
tuition and fees of veterans and certain other beneficiaries at 
institutions of higher learning under the Post-9/11 GI Bill and 
the vocational rehabilitation and education benefits program. 
The department makes those payments from mandatory 
appropriations directly to the institutions, usually at the 
start of the academic term. However, those payments are 
occasionally delayed for various reasons, and in those 
instances, some institutions will not allow beneficiaries to 
begin or to continue with their courses of education.
    H.R. 4830 would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
to approve, for the purposes of participating in education 
benefits programs administered by VA, only those institutions 
that allow beneficiaries to attend the institution for up to 90 
days after VA certifies that the student is eligible for 
benefits regardless of whether VA has made payments of tuition 
and fees. The bill would allow the Secretary to waive the 
requirement to disapprove institutions that do not adopt such a 
policy.
    CBO expects very few institutions would be disapproved for 
the use of VA benefits and that most beneficiaries who would 
have attended any disapproved institutions would use their 
benefits at another institution instead. To the extent that a 
few beneficiaries would pursue fewer courses of education as a 
result of the disapproval of some institutions, direct spending 
would decrease by an insignificant amount, CBO estimates.
    Enacting H.R. 4830 would affect direct spending; therefore, 
pay-as-you-go procedures apply. However, CBO estimates that the 
net effects would be insignificant for each year. Enacting the 
bill would not affect revenues.
    CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 4830 would not increase 
net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2029.
    H.R. 4830 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). 
In order for institutions of higher learning to continue to 
participate in education benefits programs administered by the 
VA, the bill would require those institutions to adopt policies 
that allow eligible students to attend for a period of time 
while payment of tuition and fees is pending from the VA. Since 
educational institutions may avoid the requirements by 
foregoing such assistance from the VA, it is not a mandate as 
defined in UMRA.
    The CBO staff contacts for this estimate are David Newman 
(for federal costs) and Andrew Laughlin (for mandates). The 
estimate was reviewed by Leo Lex, Deputy Assistant Director for 
Budget Analysis.

                       Federal Mandates Statement

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates regarding H.R. 4830, as amended, prepared by the 
Director of the Congressional Budget Office pursuant to section 
423 of the Unfunded Mandated Reform Act.

                      Advisory Committee Statement

    No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) 
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act would be created by H.R. 
4830, as amended.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Pursuant to Article I, section 8 of the United States 
Constitution, H.R. 4830, as amended, is authorized by Congress' 
power to ``provide for the common Defense and general Welfare 
of the United States.''

                  Applicability to Legislative Branch

    The Committee finds that H.R. 4830, as amended, does not 
relate to the terms and conditions of employment or access to 
public services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act.

              Statement on Duplication of Federal Programs

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(5) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee finds that no provision 
of H.R. 4830, as amended, establishes or reauthorizes a program 
of the Federal Government known to be duplicative of another 
Federal program, a program that was included in any report from 
the Government Accountability Office to Congress pursuant to 
section 21 of Public Law 111-139, or a program related to a 
program identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal 
Domestic Assistance.

                   Disclosure of Directed Rulemaking

    Pursuant to section 3(i) of H. Res. 5, 115th Cong. (2017), 
H.R. 4830, as amended, contains no direct rule making.

             Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation


Section 1. Short title

    This section cites the short of this bill to be, the 
``Servicemembers Improved Transition through Reforms for 
Ensuring Progress Act'' or the ``SIT-REP Act.''

Section 2. Disapproval for purposes of educational assistance programs 
        of Department of Veterans Affairs for certain courses of 
        education that do not permit individuals to attend or 
        participate in courses pending payment

    Section two would amend section 3679 of title 38, U.S.C., 
by adding a new subsection at the end.
    Section 3679(e)(1) would state that notwithstanding any 
other provision of this chapter, beginning on August 1, 2018, a 
State Approving Agency, or the VA Secretary when acting in the 
role of a State Approving Agency, shall disapprove a course of 
education provided by an educational institution unless the 
institution adopts: a policy that permits any covered 
individual to attend the course of education during the period 
beginning on the date on which the individual provides a 
certificate of eligibility to the institution for entitlement 
to assistance under chapters 31 or 33 of title 38, U.S.C. This 
section would also require the institution to allow the 
individual to attend the course of education even if the 
institution has not received payment from the VA for up to 90 
days after the individual provided the certificate of 
eligibility to the institution. The institution would also be 
required to adopt a policy that ensures that the educational 
institution will not impose any penalty, including the 
assessment of late fees, the denial of access to classes, 
libraries, or other institutional facilities, or the 
requirement that a covered individual funds, on any covered 
individual because of the individual's inability to meet his or 
her financial obligations to the institution as a result of the 
delayed disbursement of any payment to be provided by VA.
    Section 3679(e)(2) would define a ``covered individual'' as 
any individual who is entitled to educational assistance under 
chapter 31 or 33 of title 38, U.S.C.
    Section 3679(e)(3) would allow the Secretary to waive such 
requirements of section 3679(e)(1) as the Secretary considers 
appropriate.

Section 3. Clarification regarding applicability of authority to use 
        educational assistance to pursue independent study programs at 
        certain educational institutions that are not institutions of 
        higher learning

    Section 3 would amend the section heading for section 302 
of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 
2017 (Public Law 115-48) to as follows: ``Sec. 302. 
Authorization for use of educational assistance under any of 
the educational assistance programs of the department of 
veterans affairs to pursue independent study programs at 
certain educational institutions that are not institutions of 
higher learning.''

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

    In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic, existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic, and existing law in which no 
change is proposed is shown in roman):

TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



PART III--READJUSTMENT AND RELATED BENEFITS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


           CHAPTER 36--ADMINISTRATION OF EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS


SUBCHAPTER I--STATE APPROVING AGENCIES

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



Sec. 3679. Disapproval of courses

  (a)(1) Except as provided by paragraph (2), any course 
approved for the purposes of this chapter which fails to meet 
any of the requirements of this chapter shall be immediately 
disapproved by the Secretary or the appropriate State approving 
agency. An educational institution which has its courses 
disapproved by the Secretary or a State approving agency will 
be notified of such disapproval by a certified or registered 
letter of notification and a return receipt secured.
  (2) In the case of a course of education that would be 
subject to disapproval under paragraph (1) solely for the 
reason that the Secretary of Education withdraws the 
recognition of the accrediting agency that accredited the 
course, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in consultation with 
the Secretary of Education, and notwithstanding the withdrawal, 
may continue to treat the course as an approved course of 
education under this chapter for a period not to exceed 18 
months from the date of the withdrawal of recognition of the 
accrediting agency, unless the Secretary of Veterans Affairs or 
the appropriate State approving agency determines that there is 
evidence to support the disapproval of the course under this 
chapter. The Secretary shall provide to any veteran enrolled in 
such a course of education notice of the status of the course 
of education.
  (b) Each State approving agency shall notify the Secretary of 
each course which it has disapproved under this section. The 
Secretary shall notify the State approving agency of the 
Secretary's disapproval of any educational institution under 
chapter 31 of this title.
  (c)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter 
and subject to paragraphs (3) through (6), the Secretary shall 
disapprove a course of education provided by a public 
institution of higher learning if the institution charges 
tuition and fees for that course for covered individuals who 
are pursuing the course with educational assistance under 
chapter 30 or 33 of this title while living in the State in 
which the institution is located at a rate that is higher than 
the rate the institution charges for tuition and fees for that 
course for residents of the State in which the institution is 
located, regardless of the covered individual's State of 
residence.
  (2) For purposes of this subsection, a covered individual is 
any individual as follows:
          (A) A veteran who was discharged or released from a 
        period of not fewer than 90 days of service in the 
        active military, naval, or air service less than three 
        years before the date of enrollment in the course 
        concerned.
          (B) An individual who is entitled to assistance 
        under--
                  (i) section 3311(b)(9) of this title; or
                  (ii) section 3319 of this title by virtue of 
                the individual's relationship to--
                          (I) a veteran described in 
                        subparagraph (A); or
                          (II) a member of the uniformed 
                        services described in section 3319(b) 
                        of this title who is serving on active 
                        duty.
  (3) If after enrollment in a course of education that is 
subject to disapproval under paragraph (1) by reason of 
paragraph (2)(A) or (2)(B) a covered individual pursues one or 
more courses of education at the same public institution of 
higher learning while remaining continuously enrolled (other 
than during regularly scheduled breaks between courses, 
semesters or terms) at that institution of higher learning, any 
course so pursued by the covered individual at that institution 
of higher learning while so continuously enrolled shall also be 
subject to disapproval under paragraph (1).
  (4) It shall not be grounds to disapprove a course of 
education under paragraph (1) if a public institution of higher 
learning requires a covered individual pursuing a course of 
education at the institution to demonstrate an intent, by means 
other than satisfying a physical presence requirement, to 
establish residency in the State in which the institution is 
located, or to satisfy other requirements not relating to the 
establishment of residency, in order to be charged tuition and 
fees for that course at a rate that is equal to or less than 
the rate the institution charges for tuition and fees for that 
course for residents of the State.
  (5) The Secretary may waive such requirements of paragraph 
(1) as the Secretary considers appropriate.
  (6) Disapproval under paragraph (1) shall apply only with 
respect to educational assistance under chapters 30 and 33 of 
this title.
  (d) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the 
Secretary or the applicable State approving agency shall 
disapprove a course of education described in paragraph (14) or 
(15) of section 3676(c) of this title unless the educational 
institution providing the course of education--
          (1) publicly discloses any conditions or additional 
        requirements, including training, experience, or 
        examinations, required to obtain the license, 
        certification, or approval for which the course of 
        education is designed to provide preparation; and
          (2) makes each disclosure required by paragraph (1) 
        in a manner that the Secretary considers prominent (as 
        specified by the Secretary in regulations prescribed 
        for purposes of this subsection).
  (e)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, 
beginning on August 1, 2018, a State approving agency, or the 
Secretary when acting in the role of the State approving 
agency, shall disapprove a course of education provided by an 
educational institution unless the educational institution has 
adopted the following policies:
          (A) A policy that permits any covered individual to 
        attend or participate in the course of education during 
        the period beginning on the date on which the 
        individual provides to the educational institution a 
        certificate of eligibility for entitlement to 
        educational assistance under chapter 31 or 33 of this 
        title and ending on the earlier of the following dates:
                  (i) The date on which the Secretary provides 
                payment for such course of education to such 
                institution.
                  (ii) The date that is 90 days after the date 
                on which the individual provides to the 
                educational institution such certificate of 
                eligibility.
          (B) A policy that ensures that the educational 
        institution will not impose any penalty, including the 
        assessment of late fees, the denial of access to 
        classes, libraries, or other institutional facilities, 
        or the requirement that a covered individual borrow 
        additional funds, on any covered individual because of 
        the individual's inability to meet his or her financial 
        obligations to the institution as a result of the 
        delayed disbursement of any payment to be provided by 
        the Secretary.
  (2) For purposes of this subsection, a covered individual is 
any individual who is entitled to educational assistance under 
chapter 31 or 33 of this title.
  (3) The Secretary may waive such requirements of paragraph 
(1) as the Secretary considers appropriate.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

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      HARRY W. COLMERY VETERANS EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE ACT OF 2017


SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

  (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Harry W. 
Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017''.
  (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents for this Act is 
as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
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      TITLE III--ADMINISTRATION OF EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

Sec. 301. State approving agency funding.
[Sec. 302. Authorization for use of Post-9/11 Educational Assistance to 
          pursue independent study programs at certain educational 
          institutions that are not institutions of higher learning.]
Sec. 302. Authorization for use of educational assistance under any of 
          the educational assistance programs of the Department of 
          Veterans Affairs to pursue independent study programs at 
          certain educational institutions that are not institutions of 
          higher learning.

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TITLE III--ADMINISTRATION OF EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

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SEC. 302. [AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF POST-9/11 EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE TO 
                    PURSUE INDEPENDENT STUDY PROGRAMS AT CERTAIN 
                    EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS THAT ARE NOT INSTITUTIONS 
                    OF HIGHER LEARNING.]  AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF 
                    EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE UNDER ANY OF THE EDUCATIONAL 
                    ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS 
                    AFFAIRS TO PURSUE INDEPENDENT STUDY PROGRAMS AT 
                    CERTAIN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS THAT ARE NOT 
                    INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING.

  Section 3680A is amended--
          (1) in subsection (a)--
                  (A) in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by 
                striking ``in--'' and inserting ``in any of the 
                following:'';
                  (B) in paragraph (1)--
                          (i) by striking ``any'' and inserting 
                        ``Any''; and
                          (ii) by striking the semicolon at the 
                        end and inserting a period;
                  (C) in paragraph (2)--
                          (i) by striking ``any'' and inserting 
                        ``Any''; and
                          (ii) by striking the semicolon at the 
                        end and inserting a period;
                  (D) in paragraph (3)--
                          (i) by striking ``any'' and inserting 
                        ``Any''; and
                          (ii) by striking ``; or'' and 
                        inserting a period; and
                  (E) by striking paragraph (4) and inserting 
                the following new paragraph (4):
          ``(4) Any independent study program except an 
        independent study program (including such a program 
        taken over open circuit television) that--
                  ``(A) is accredited by an accrediting agency 
                or association recognized by the Secretary of 
                Education under subpart 2 of part H of title IV 
                of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 
                1099b);
                  ``(B) leads to--
                          ``(i) a standard college degree;
                          ``(ii) a certificate that reflects 
                        educational attainment offered by an 
                        institution of higher learning; or
                          ``(iii) a certificate that reflects 
                        completion of a course of study offered 
                        by--
                                  ``(I) an area career and 
                                technical education school (as 
                                defined in subparagraphs (C) 
                                and (D) of section 3(3) of the 
                                Carl D. Perkins Career and 
                                Technical Education Act of 2006 
                                (20 U.S.C. 2302(3))) that 
                                provides education at the 
                                postsecondary level; or
                                  ``(II) a postsecondary 
                                vocational institution (as 
                                defined in section 102(c) of 
                                the Higher Education Act of 
                                1965 (20 U.S.C. 1002(c))) that 
                                provides education at the 
                                postsecondary level; and
                  ``(C) in the case of a program described in 
                subparagraph (B)(iii)--
                          ``(i) provides training aligned with 
                        the requirements of employers in the 
                        State or local area where the program 
                        is located, which may include in-demand 
                        industry sectors or occupations; and
                          ``(ii) provides a student, upon 
                        completion of the program, with a 
                        recognized postsecondary credential 
                        that is recognized by employers in the 
                        relevant industry, which may include a 
                        credential recognized by industry or 
                        sector partnerships in the State or 
                        local area where the industry is 
                        located; and
                          ``(iii) meets such content and 
                        instructional standards as may be 
                        required to comply with the criteria 
                        under section 3676(c)(14) and(15) of 
                        this title.''; and
          (2) by adding at the end the following new 
        subsection:
  ``(h) In this section, the terms `State or local area', 
`recognized postsecondary credential', `industry or sector 
partnership', and `in-demand industry sector or occupation' 
have the meaning given such terms in section 3 of the Workforce 
Innovation and Opportunity Act (29 U.S.C. 3102).''.

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