Duty assignments shouldn’t derail education for military service members, says Tillis

A bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) would protect United States military service members both financially and educationally if they need to withdraw from higher education classes because they are called up for duty.

“When a student reports to active duty, inactive duty training, or state active duty, they and their spouses should not be penalized with failing grades or sacrifice of education benefits,” Sen. Tillis said. “I am proud to introduce this legislation to support our servicemembers and their families to ensure they receive the educational benefits they have earned.”

The Protections for Student Veterans Act of 2022, S. 4890, which Sen. Tillis cosponsored on Sept. 20 alongside bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), would permit student service members and their spouses, who use U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) education benefits and are in good standing, to withdraw or take a leave of absence from their education when he or she must report for active duty, inactive duty training, or state active duty, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers. 

At the same time, S. 4890 would ban schools from assigning failing grades to these students and would ensure that covered individuals could recoup lost VA education benefits caused by their orders, the summary says.

Any student service member who takes a leave of absence also could receive a grade of incomplete under the bill, and, when possible, schools could allow the student to complete course credits once they finish a term of service, states the summary.

“When a service member is suddenly called up for duty, they should not have to fear losing any VA tuition assistance or receiving failing grades because of their service-related withdrawal,” said Sen. Hassan. “I am glad to work across the aisle on this bill with Senator Tillis, and I urge my colleagues to support this commonsense bill.”

Sens. Tillis and Hassan serve on the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, which has been assigned S. 4890 for consideration.