Underwood Introduces New Legislation to Establish Protections for Student Veterans

October 18, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14) introduced new legislation to support student veterans who are at risk of being academically penalized due to their ongoing military service. Currently, if a service member is assigned to a period of active service or inactive-duty training, they could face grade reductions, failing grades, and even financial penalties if they are forced to withdraw from classes to serve our country. Modeled after successful legislation in Illinois, the Protections for Student Veterans Act (H.R. 5603) will ensure that veterans in every state can continue their education without penalty if they are called to serve.  


It is unacceptable for a veteran to be punished for their ongoing service to our country. I’m thankful that my home state of Illinois has taken action to right this wrong, and I’m proud to be introducing the Protections for Student Veterans Act to build on Illinois’ example and ensure that veterans in every state can continue their education without penalty if they are called to serve,’ said Underwood. “This bill I introduced will implement commonsense protections that honor the sacrifices of our service members.” 


“The increasingly rapid pace at which National Guard and Reserve units are called to action uniquely impacts student service members by temporarily preventing them from continuing their studies in many cases,” said Justin Hauschild, Legal Fellow with Student Veterans of America (SVA). “The Protections for Student Veterans Act would establish a common set of basic rights for service members called to duty when using VA education benefits—allowing them to withdraw or take a leave of absence from their studies without fear of penalty—and we thank Congresswoman Underwood for championing this bill to create a critical framework for ensuring students are not punished for their military service.”


The Protections for Student Veterans Act would:  

  • Implement commonsense protections for student veterans, including a prohibition on assigning failing grades or other punishments for service members who receive orders to begin active service or training.  
  • Ensure that veterans who are called to service are refunded for tuition and fees for incomplete academic terms.  
  • Ensure that veterans who are called to service have the opportunity to resume their studies when their service is complete. 


The bill was included in draft form in a September 21st legislative hearing in the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.