Last week Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced the Servicemember Education Reform and Vocational Enhancement (SERVE) Act of 2013, a bill to improve the quality of educational programs for servicemembers and veterans and help them transition into the civilian workforce.
According to the Senator’s joint press release, The Servicemember Education Reform and Vocational Enhancement (SERVE) Act of 2013 will improve the quality of education and training for veterans and military members taking advantage of educational benefits provided by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs and the Dept. of Defense.
Here is a quick summary of what the legislation seeks to acomplish:
- Require institutions accepting VA or DoD educational benefits to meet minimum standards by ensuring consistency between federal agencies. Raising the bar on minimum standards that educational institutions must meet ensures servicemembers are getting a quality education.
- Improve transparency of education and training programs by requiring institutions to disclose information such as graduation rates, withdrawal policies, and program costs to students and by ensuring programs fully deliver what they advertise.
- Require these institutions to provide access to academic and/or career counseling for military and veteran students in hopes of not only improving their chances of graduating, but also helping prepare them for future careers.
- Facilitate the use of VA and DoD educational benefits for employment training programs by creating a five-state pilot program. States will be charged with developing best practices needed to ensure that quality employment training, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training programs are eligible for participation in the Post-9/11 GI Bill program.
- Require an annual report to relevant Senate and House Committees on which schools and programs veteran and military students are putting their educational benefits toward, the number of complaints received, and recommendations for further legislative action to improve educational outcomes and ensure the greatest return on investment in these federal programs.