Back in the Saddle

During my time in the Senate, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting countless veterans who call Texas home.

We have the second highest veteran population of all states, with an estimated 1.6 million veterans living in the Lone Star State.

I’ve heard from these men and women about the daily challenges they face – both big and small.

Whether it’s navigating a complicated trail of paperwork, getting the timely health care they need, or finding employment when returning to civilian life – I’m eager to find solutions to support these American heroes.

That's why I introduced the Veteran STEM Scholarship Improvement Act, which would ensure Texas veterans who are interested in pursuing STEM programs offered in their communities are able to do so by providing an additional nine months of GI bill eligibility, or up to $30,000 in benefits, to student veterans pursuing a STEM degree.

It also opens up eligibility to more veterans by lowering the current 128 credit hour requirement to a much more common 120 credit hour requirement. Current law mandates that students must be enrolled in a STEM program that exceeds 128 credit hours, but the Department of Veterans Affairs has found that there are only three states where the average STEM degree exceeds that minimum.

That places many students in an unfair position where they must apply to and gain acceptance into an extremely limited list of schools, or forgo the scholarship money entirely.

Changing an “eight” to a “zero” in statute may not seem like a big deal – but for the veterans who have been frustrated by this roadblock preventing them from using the benefits they were promised – it’s life changing.

I'm grateful for the dedicated service and sacrifice of millions of men and women across the country who defend our freedoms, and want to ensure their transition to civilian life after service is as smooth as possible.

I'm pleased this bill to broaden the education opportunities for America’s veterans received bipartisan support, and look forward to the President signing it into law.


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