Tester, Rounds Bipartisan Bill Will Streamline Education Benefits for Veterans

Cuts down on excessive bureaucracy to give student veterans timelier benefits through the VA Work-Study Program

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) are introducing bipartisan legislation to provide timelier education benefits to student veterans across the country.

Excessive bureaucracy at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has caused significant delays in education benefits to veterans participating in the VA Work-Study Allowance Program. The program allows student veterans— whether on campus, at VA facilities, or at other veteran-centered organizations— to earn money at a second job while getting an education.

Senators Tester and Rounds’ G.I. Bill Work Study Improvement Act of 2019, streamlines the processing and administration of VA benefits through the VA Work-Study Allowance Program, providing veterans with timelier benefits. 

“Student veterans often work multiple jobs to make ends meet, and we should be making it easier, not harder, for them to access the benefits they’re owed by the VA,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. “Our bipartisan bill cuts down bureaucratic inefficiencies and invests in our future by getting Montana veterans better access to the benefits they need while they get an education.” 

“For years, the VA’s work-study program has been a great benefit to veterans seeking to help other veterans through on-the-job training,” said Rounds. “But under the current system, many students are waiting weeks to get paid for their work, and some aren’t receiving paychecks at all due to administrative delays in processing at the VA. Our legislation streamlines the program to make certain student workers are getting paid on-time and in-full. Work-study programs are a great way to earn some extra cash while working toward a degree. Our bill makes improvements to the VA’s work-study program to better serve the needs of our service members transitioning into civilian life.”

Specifically, the G.I. Bill Work Study Improvement Act reforms the process and manner in which work-study payments are made to participating student veterans. It also authorizes payments to schools based on their usage of work-study funds from previous semesters. 

Student veterans enrolled full-time in educational institutions like University of Montana and Montana State University are eligible for a work-study allowance by VA. 

“The VA Work-Study program is a vital component to the success of the Veteran Support Center at MSU,” said Montana State University Director of Veteran Services, Joseph Schumacher. “Veterans serving other veterans is extremely powerful— they have firsthand knowledge of how the timely processing of VA educational benefits directly impacts success for veterans at MSU. This legislation will help ensure that the student veterans performing these vital tasks are being compensated in a timely fashion and can anticipate when these payments will arrive. We are grateful to Senators Tester and Rounds for their bipartisan work to address these issues.”