A Message from Matt Zuccaro about GI Benefits

A Message from Matt Zuccaro about GI Benefits

10-Jun-2015 Source: HAI

The GI bill was there for me after my service in Vietnam. Now HAI is committed to making sure it’s there to meet the needs of today’s veterans.

Right now, there’s a bill pending in Congress (H.R. 475) that includes language to severely restrict the amount of money the Veterans Administration (VA) will pay for a veteran to attend a flight training degree program at a public college or university. Veterans using these programs represent one of the best prospects for rebuilding a declining pilot population.

Lax enforcement of existing VA regulations coupled with liberal policies allowed some flight schools to charge the VA far more than was the intent of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The bill is intended to train a veteran in any course of study to a point that he or she can enter the civilian workforce. In the aviation industry, that generally means a commercial pilot with flight instructor and flight instructor-instrument certificates.

House bill 475 would impose an annual cap of just over $20,000 per year for a flight-training degree program at  public schools. No other public collegiate degree program faces such a cap.

Earning commercial pilot and flight instructor certificates is expensive. Legislation to cap flight training in a college program at just over $20,000 per year is inadequate. Student loans to make up the difference are nonexistent.

Congress must not single out our industry based on a few isolated incidents caused by inept Veterans Administration management of college flight-training programs. And it should order a Government Accountability Office study on the true costs of training veterans to be commercial pilots.

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