Tillis cosponsors bipartisan bill to repay service members for education contributions

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) on March 19 introduced bipartisan legislation that would authorize the repayment of Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) funds to at least 25,000 active-duty service members who paid into the fund for education benefits.

“Our brave service members deserve the full financial benefits they are rightfully owed,” Sen. Tillis said. “This common-sense legislation fixes a financial loophole and cuts down on the unnecessary bureaucracy that prevents many active-duty service members from receiving the full benefits they earn through serving our country.” 

The bill, S. 3970, is sponsored by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and three original cosponsors, including Sen. Tillis and U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH). It would ensure that the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) repays members of the U.S. Armed Forces for certain contributions they made toward Post-9/11 Educational Assistance, according to the congressional record bill summary.

S. 3970 would close a financial loophole inadvertently created during the transition from the MGIB to the Forever GI Bill. The MGIB is being phased out for the more generous Forever GI Bill, which was signed into law on Aug. 16, 2017, according to information provided by Sen. Tillis’ staff.

The MGIB required service members to pay a $100 monthly fee during their first 12 months of active duty in order to receive financial assistance for education. The $1,200 in total then was refunded to service members as an attachment to their housing allowance, the information says. 

However, veterans who do not receive a housing allowance have also not received the $1,200 they are owed, and the process to reclaim these funds can be arduous.

If enacted, S. 3970 would ensure veterans are made whole by amending Title 38 of U.S. Code to require that the VA secretary repay them for these contributions.