AAU joined ACE and 13 other higher education organizations in sending a letter to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee expressing concerns regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs’ recent 85-15 policy reset and changes in the requirements for a 35% exemption. The letter asks for the committee’s assistance in clarifying congressional intent regarding the rule and exemption in order to minimize “any unintended consequences for veterans.”
Under the 85-15 rule, institutions can receive an exemption from computing and reporting 85-15 ratios to the VA when fewer than 35% of students on campus receive VA benefits. During its recent policy reset, the VA rescinded all 35% exemptions currently in effect and is requiring campuses to provide 85-15 ratios for every program to receive future exemptions. The VA is also asking campuses to resubmit their calculations every two years.
As the letter explains, the new policy puts institutions in a “catch-22” situation where they must submit course-by-course 85-15 computations in order to receive an exemption from course-by-course computations. Many campuses and senior veterans’ programs administrators, the letter notes, “are confused by the VA’s new requirements, which appear directly at odds with both the regulations and legislative intent.” The letter emphasizes that while colleges and universities “strongly support all appropriate efforts to protect both veterans and taxpayer dollars against waste, fraud, and abuse,” the recent reset “exceeds VA’s statutory authorities.” “We urge the Committee to carefully examine VA’s policies to protect against unintended consequences and to ensure that VA’s reset is consistent with congressional intent,” the letter adds.