This morning, AMVETS received confirmation from Congressional staffers that the FY2010 budget for the Department of Education will included funding for federal grants to colleges and universities to establish student-veterans' "centers of excellence."
Two summers ago, AMVETS worked with Congress to include a provision in the Higher Education Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2008 that would commission the grants, however, actual funding for the grants remained a major question throughout this year's fiscal budget process.
AMVETS National Legislative Director Ray Kelley worked with leaders in the House to include $8 million in funding for student-vets' centers in their version of the bill, but the provision was absent in the original Senate bill.
Once the budget went to conference, both chambers compromised to include $6 million in funding for a pilot program for these student-vets' centers.
AMVETS anticipates that the conference budget should easily pass both the House and Senate, and that President Obama should sign it into law shortly.
Federal funding for student-veterans' "centers of excellence" has been a top priority for AMVETS since the passage of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. While AMVETS viewed the new G.I. Bill as an integral tool in ensuring student-veterans had an opportunity to go to college, AMVETS believed that student-veterans' centers would ensure that today's veterans would have all the tools necessary to succeed in the classroom.
AMVETS continues to work with Cleveland State University Professor John Schupp, founder of the Supportive Education for the Returning Veteran (SERV) program as a model for campuses to meet the needs of their student-veterans.
AMVETS and Schupp were the visionaries behind the original legislation in Congress to commission these grants in an effort to ensure college campuses were prepared for the influx of veterans seeking to use their education entitlements.
Once Department of Education clarifies the grant process, AMVETS will work with Schupp and other student-veterans' advocates around the country--such as John Powers at the University of Rhode Island--to ensure campuses have the tools necessary to receive federal grants and establish quality student-veterans' centers.
Stars & Stripes reports on student-vets' centers.
(Photos: Top: Ray Kelley speaks with John Schupp between meetings on Capitol Hill, advocating for student-veterans' "centers of excellence. Photo by Ryan Gallucci. Bottom: Student-veterans enrolled in Schupp's SERV program pose for a photo with the chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, Eric D. Fingerhunt, who visited Cleveland State University to see the merits of SERV first-hand. Photo courtesy of SERV.)