Budzinski Introduces Bill to Improve Veteran Access to STEM Scholarships 

Sep 28, 2023
Press
Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski (IL-13) introduced legislation to reform the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship program to help more veterans pursue degrees in science, health care and technology. 

study conducted by the Wounded Warrior Project recently found employment and financial wellness to be significant challenges facing women veterans in the United States. Congresswoman Budzinski’s Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship Opportunity Act would make existing scholarships more accessible by eliminating burdensome requirements and enhancing flexibility. 

“The folks who put their lives on the line to serve our country should never have trouble finding a good paying job when they return home,” said Congresswoman Budzinski. “Today, I’m excited to introduce the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship Opportunity Act to help make it easier for our nation’s heroes to pursue careers in science, health care and technology. This legislation will help fill high-demand jobs while combating the financial obstacles too many of our nation’s veterans face when they leave active-duty service.” 

The Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship Opportunity Act reforms the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship by changing the minimum number of credit hours required to apply from 60 to 45, by removing the requirement that applicants must have exhausted their Post 9-11/GI Bill benefits or will run out of their benefits within 6 months and by allowing student veterans to use the scholarship towards graduate school classes. 

The legislation has been endorsed by the Wounded Warrior Project, the Student Veterans of America, the Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS and the American Legion. 

“Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is proud to support the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship Opportunity Act, which addresses an urgent need identified in our recent Women Warriors Report: financial wellness,” said Jennifer Silva, WWP’s Chief Program Officer. “Unemployment levels are higher for WWP female warriors than their male counterparts, and nearly half (49%) of WWP women warriors report that they live paycheck-to-paycheck. One of the report’s recommendations is to expand VA scholarships and career-focused programs, and Rep. Nikki Budzinski’s bill, centered around the VA’s Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship program, is an important step in helping women veterans achieve financial stability and wellness. We thank Rep. Budzinski for this crucial legislation.”

“The American Legion is proud to continue our support for veterans’ education benefits by supporting the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship Opportunity Act. Expanding eligibility to the Edith Nourse STEM Scholarship, the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship Opportunity Act will enhance the powerful recruitment tool of veterans’ educational benefits that has successfully attracted millions to military service,” said Chanin Nuntavong, Executive Director of the American Legion. 

“The Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship provides a critical extension of education benefits for student veterans pursuing STEM degrees, which often run beyond students’ 36 months of Post-9/11 GI-Bill benefits, but enrollment for the scholarship has been unexpectedly low, raising questions about barriers limiting access,” said Tammy Barlet, Vice President of Government Affairs with Student Veterans of America (SVA). “The Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship Opportunity Act would make important refinements to the scholarship’s rules by extending eligibility to those pursuing graduate degrees in STEM and allowing students to apply for the scholarship sooner. SVA applauds Congresswoman Budzinski for championing this crucial legislation to expand access to this valuable benefit.”

“AMVETS is proud to support the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship Opportunity Act, which enhances the intent behind the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship. This bill will incentivize more veterans to pursue STEM programs and ensure their academic journey toward STEM degrees is not needlessly halted. Our organization believes in veterans’ access to all educational programs and upholding the promise that they are supported through the completion of their studies,” said Joe Chenelly, AMVETS National Executive Director.

The full text of the legislation can be found here

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