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Veterans could regain education benefits through legislation by Riverside Rep. Mark Takano

By in Press Enterprise on July 28, 2017

By Mark Muckenfuss

New legislation crafted by Rep. Mark Takano, D-Riverside, would reinstate GI Bill benefits for veterans who were students at either ITT Technical Institute or Corinthian Colleges — which operated three Everest Colleges in the Inland Empire — before those schools abruptly closed their doors.

In April 2015, thousands of students were left stranded when Orange County-based Corinthian closed all of its campuses, including 28 in California. ITT Tech, which had schools in San Bernardino, Corona, San Dimas, Orange, Torrance and Sylmar among its 130 campuses nationwide, locked its doors in September.

Takano, a former teacher who has worked on other legislation relating to for-profit colleges, said veterans were at a disadvantage to other students when it came to existing laws.

“Students who had federal financial aid were able to get their loans forgiven,” Takano said. “Veterans were not able to get their (GI) benefits restored.”

That may be changing. This week the House passed the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, HR 3218, also known as the Forever GI Bill. Colmery was a World War I vet and American Legion national commander considered the architect of the GI Bill. The bill named for him now goes to the Senate.

If enacted, the bill would extend GI benefits from the current 15-year limit to an individual’s lifetime. One of the benefits veterans can access is money for attending college. Those benefits are limited to a 36-month maximum. For students who used benefits to attend Corinthian Colleges or ITT Tech and were enrolled in either of the schools when they closed, those benefits were lost.

A provision in HR 3218 sponsored by Takano, would reinstate those benefits for an estimated 9,700 veterans.

Takano said he has been working on the legislation for the past two years.

“I definitely knew that there were veterans in the Inland Empire […]    

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