When it comes to registering for college classes, students may find that they fill up quick which can make it difficult to get the classes needed to complete their degree plan. Athletes and some other student organizations are often permitted to register for classes early in what is called a “priority enrollment system”. Enrolling in classes early helps to ensure that select students will get into the classes they need before the classes are full. Unfortunately, veterans are not afforded the same priority enrollment opportunity in many states. It is time for educational institutions to show that they value their student veterans as much as they do their athletes and other select student organizations.
H.R. 2282, known as the The Veterans Education Priority Enrollment Act, was introduced in May of this year and would require any educational institution that offers priority enrollment, to also make priority enrollment available to eligible veterans, servicemembers, or dependents. Failure to do so means the institution risks losing approval of their educational assistance programs aimed at veterans or members of the Selected Reserve or the Ready Reserve of the Armed Forces.
According to GovTrack’s data on H.R. 2282, after being introduced on May 12, 2015, the Veterans Education Priority Enrollment Act has not moved past being assigned to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the Committee on Armed Services. GovTrack is also predicting a 0% chance of this bill being enacted.
James Ulinski, a Vietnam Veteran who served in the Marine Corps, teaches at Penn State and LaSalle Universities as an adjunct professor. Ulinski is leading the fight to get Veterans put on par with athletes and other students who are afforded priority enrollment. For the past two years, Ulinski has been working diligently to get priority enrollment for veterans signed into law at the national level, but with the death of a bill similar to H.R. 2282 (H.R. 3456) in congress in 2014, he has started to focus on getting the priority enrollment for veterans approved at the state level.
In May of 2014, H.B. 1164 was signed into law and Pennsylvania became one of the states that offers priority enrollment to veterans at state funded educational institutions. Ulinski has heard from several students who have told him how great it is to be able to enroll in classes early, sometimes before even the athletes. Ulinski realizes that benefits he received such as the GI Bill were fought for by the veterans that came before him and he is just paying it forward.
The Veterans Education Priority Enrollment Act is what Ulinski calls “no cost legislation” and educational institutions won’t incur any additional expenses to allow veterans the opportunity for priority enrollment. Veterans need to contact their elected officials and urge them to approve the Veterans Education Priority Enrollment Act so Veterans can get the same priority enrollment benefits currently being afforded to a select group of students.
You can contact members of congress and let them know that the Veterans Education Priority Enrollment Act needs to get approved by visiting this link and searching for members in your state: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/current
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about what you can do to get priority enrollment for veterans in your state, contact James Ulinski at [email protected]