Thursday, August 2, 2007

Got Screwed on Tuition or Credits due to Deployment? Hopefully, Not Anymore

If this passes, it will be so awesome. Certainly, military personnel should not be punished for serving their country when called. Kuddos to Sgt. Campbell for his efforts.

Vet Rewrites The Law To Help Others

Paul Rieckhoff | June 28, 2007

When Sgt. Patrick Campbell returned to law school after serving a tour in Iraq, his student lender told him that he was defaulting on his payments. Due to his deployment to Iraq, he had used up all of his permissible grace period. Unlike his non-veteran classmates, the lender was going to require Patrick to start repaying his loans the day after graduation. Finally, after writing dozens of letters and spending hours on the phone, he was told that the only way to restore his pre-deployment status would be to rewrite the laws. So he did just that. Patrick spent his final year in law school writing the Veterans Education Tuition Support Act (VETS) to help returning student-soldiers.

Today that bill was introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown (OH) and Representative Susan Davis (CA). This new legislation will fix the loopholes that were punishing young Iraq vets like Patrick. The Veterans Education Tuition Support Act, or VETS Act, will:

Require colleges to refund tuition for service members who deploy (or provide future credits)

Restore veterans to their academic status when they return

Cap student loan interest payments at 6% while the student is deployed

Extend the period of time a student-soldier has to re-enroll after returning from abroad

Patrick's story is reality for the thousands of other National Guardsmen and Reservists who are also college students. For these troops, deployment poses extra financial burdens - including thousands of dollars in lost tuition and overdue student loans.

Sgt. Todd Bowers, IAVA's Director of Government Affairs, experienced this first hand. When he was activated on his second deployment to Iraq, Todd was forced to withdraw from his university only two weeks before finals. After he returned from Iraq, the school would not allow him to take his finals or finish his classes, and they refused to refund his tuition. Only after local media picked up on his story did the university permit Todd to finish his finals and complete his classes.

We at IAVA are incredibly proud of Patrick for pushing to make this bill a reality. He has shown how one motivated young veteran can make a difference. The VETS bill will help reassure men and women in uniform that serving their country opens doors to higher education, instead of closing them. Join us now in making sure it gets passed. You can learn more now at Tell your members of congress that college students shouldn't be punished for deciding to serve their country.

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