Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides monthly housing allowances and pays the tuition and fees for beneficiaries pursuing approved education programs. Beneficiaries, including veterans, service members, and their designated dependents, can receive that assistance for up to 36 months. Through the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship, the department may provide up to nine additional months of those benefits to students who pursue undergraduate degrees in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, health care, or other fields designated by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs that require more than 128 semester (or 192 quarter) credit hours to complete. H.R. 2196 would reduce the threshold for eligibility to qualified programs that require at least 120 semester (or 180 quarter) credit hours to complete.
Under current law, VA can provide a total of $25 million in scholarships in 2019. That amount increases to $75 million in each year from 2020 to 2022, and to $100 million in 2023 and each year thereafter. The department expects to award scholarships totaling the maximum amounts authorized.
Reducing the credit hour requirement would increase the number of beneficiaries who would be eligible to receive the those funds but would not change the total amount of scholarships awarded; thus, enacting the bill would not affect direct spending.