HOUSTON - HOUSTON -- Lawmakers from the Houston area are pushing legislation to help military veterans blindsided by the abrupt shutdown of ITT Technical Institute. The school aggressively recruited military members and now that it is closed, more than 12,000 vets stand to lose their tuition benefits and housing allowances.
"I am extremely upset," said Jeffery Fholer, who spent eight years in the Marines. "I feel like I was taken advantage of."
Fholer, who fought in Operation of Iraqi Freedom, was using his GI Bill to take online classes at ITT Tech. He was more than a year into his program when the school abruptly shut down.
Unlike traditional students who can have federal loan debt forgiven when a school goes belly up, veterans can't get their benefits back, even if the defunct school's credits don't transfer.
"I worked for eight years in the military to earn these benefits," said Fholer. "There's nothing I can do about it. I can't even receive my transcripts."
"There's nothing the VA can do, it needs Congressional action," said Rep. Gene Green, who represents part of Houston. "A veteran shouldn't be punished for going to a school that has been in business and all of a sudden it didn't want to comply with the rules."
Thursday, Green co-sponsored a bill called the Veterans Education Recovery and Restoration Act. The legislation was originally introduced in the House by Rep. Mark Takano of California. It remains in committee.
Representatives Al Green and Sheila Jackson-Lee also signed on today as co-sponsors.
Staff members for Sen. Ted Cruz say they are studying a similar bill in the Senate.
(© 2016 KHOU)