Kilili bill seeks to expands veterans’ education benefits

Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) has introduced the GI Bill Access to Career Credentials Act to allow GI Bill educational benefits to be used to cover the cost of preparatory courses for license and certification exams. Currently, the GI Bill does not cover those kinds of preparatory courses.

“By covering these courses under the GI Bill,” Sablan said in his introductory statement, “veterans and their eligible family members will have better access to the support they need to enter in-demand careers in health care, teaching, technology, and other fields that may require government licenses and certifications.”

Twenty to 30 percent of Marianas High School graduates enter the military each year, according to the Public School System.

Sablan, a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, has made it a key goal to make more benefits available to returning service members and their families.

The GI Bill eases reentry by helping pay for the costs of training for new careers in civilian life. But in today’s economy, increasingly reliant on workers with technical skills, new careers sometimes require passing complex license and certification exams.

“These exams are not easy, and not all students pass on their first attempt,” Sablan said. “That is why I think the GI Bill needs to be updated to cover courses designed to help them pass.”

Northern Marianas College, for instance, charges $400 for a course to help prepare for the nurse licensing exam. Currently, the GI Bill would not cover the cost of that prep course.

For the past 75 years more than 25 million veterans and their families have used the GI Bill. Over that time Congress has periodically expanded the law to cover non-tuition expenses, such as college admissions test fees, admissions test preparatory courses, and exam fees for licenses and certifications. Some 5,700 GI Bill students used their license and certification exam fees reimbursement benefit over the last year and a half, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. But courses designed to help them pass these tests are not reimbursable.

Sablan’s bill, H.R. 2934, is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Republican Jim Banks of Indiana is an original cosponsor of the legislation. (PR)

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