B-131324, JUN. 12, 1957

B-131324: Jun 12, 1957

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THE ELIGIBLE PERSON IS ATTENDING COLLEGE. BOOKS AND FEES IS BEING PAID TO THE COLLEGE BY THE STATE BOARD FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION FOR HIS BENEFIT. THE TRAINING HE IS RECEIVING IS BEING FURNISHED UNDER THE COLORADO VOCATIONAL PROGRAM. WHICH PROGRAM IS BEING ASSISTED BY APPROPRIATIONS OF THE FEDERAL TREASURY PROVIDED FOR UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION ACT. THIS PERSON IS NOT RECEIVING ANY MONEY. ELICITED THE INFORMATION THAT NONE OF THE MONEY APPROPRIATED BY THE CONGRESS UNDER THE VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION ACT IS EVER PAID BY THE UNITED STATES DIRECTLY TO AN INDIVIDUAL BENEFICIARY UNDER THE VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION PROGRAM OF THE SEVERAL STATES. THAT SUCH APPROPRIATED FEDERAL FUNDS ARE TURNED OVER TO THE SEVERAL STATES IN AID OF THEIR VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION PROGRAMS.

B-131324, JUN. 12, 1957

TO HONORABLE H. V. HIGLEY, ADMINISTRATOR, VETERANS ADMINISTRATION:

ON MARCH 29, 1957, YOU REQUESTED OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE PAYMENT OF AN EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE ALLOWANCE UNDER THE WAR ORPHANS' EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE ACT OF 1956, PUBLIC LAW 634, 70 STAT. 411, 38 U.S.C. 1031-1084, WOULD BE A DUPLICATION OF BENEFITS WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 502 (B) OF THE SAID ACT UNDER THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES STATED IN YOUR LETTER, AS FOLLOWS:

"1. THE ELIGIBLE PERSON IS ATTENDING COLLEGE, AND THE AMOUNT OF $63 PER QUARTER FOR TUITION, BOOKS AND FEES IS BEING PAID TO THE COLLEGE BY THE STATE BOARD FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION FOR HIS BENEFIT. THE TRAINING HE IS RECEIVING IS BEING FURNISHED UNDER THE COLORADO VOCATIONAL PROGRAM, WHICH PROGRAM IS BEING ASSISTED BY APPROPRIATIONS OF THE FEDERAL TREASURY PROVIDED FOR UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION ACT, 29 U.S.C. 31 ET SEQ., AS AMENDED BY PUBLIC LAW 565, 83D CONGRESS, 68 STAT. 652. THIS PERSON IS NOT RECEIVING ANY MONEY, EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, FOR MAINTENANCE FROM THE STATE.

"2. INFORMAL CONTACT WITH THE OFFICE OF VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION AND WELFARE, WASHINGTON, D.C., ELICITED THE INFORMATION THAT NONE OF THE MONEY APPROPRIATED BY THE CONGRESS UNDER THE VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION ACT IS EVER PAID BY THE UNITED STATES DIRECTLY TO AN INDIVIDUAL BENEFICIARY UNDER THE VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION PROGRAM OF THE SEVERAL STATES; THAT SUCH APPROPRIATED FEDERAL FUNDS ARE TURNED OVER TO THE SEVERAL STATES IN AID OF THEIR VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION PROGRAMS; AND THAT, IN THE VIEW OF THAT OFFICE, SUCH APPROPRIATED FUNDS BY THE CONGRESS CEASE TO BE FUNDS OF THE UNITED STATES AT THE TIME THEY ARE TURNED OVER TO THE STATES.'

YOU REITERATE THAT THE ELIGIBLE PERSON IS NOT RECEIVING ANY MONEY FOR MAINTENANCE UNDER THE STATE VOCATIONAL PROGRAM AND, THEREFORE, IS NOT RECEIVING A COMPLETE DUPLICATION OF BENEFITS.

THE PURPOSE OF THE VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION ACT, 41 STAT. 735, AS AMENDED, 29 U.S.C. 31-42, IS TO ASSIST THE STATES, BY WAY OF GRANTS, IN REHABILITATING PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED INDIVIDUALS SO THAT SUCH INDIVIDUALS MAY PREPARE FOR AND ENGAGE IN REMUNERATIVE EMPLOYMENT TO THE EXTENT OF THEIR CAPABILITIES (29 U.S.C. 30). IN ORDER TO BECOME ELIGIBLE FOR FEDERAL GRANTS UNDER THE ACT, A STATE MUST SUBMIT TO THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH, EDUCATION AND WELFARE FOR APPROVAL A STATE PLAN CONFORMING TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF 29 U.S.C. 35. ALSO, THE ACT, IN EFFECT, REQUIRES THE STATE TO MATCH THE FEDERAL FUNDS IT RECEIVES WITH STATE FUNDS, THE MATCHING RATIO TO BE COMPUTED PURSUANT TO CERTAIN FORMULAS CONTAINED IN THE ACT. SUBJECT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT AND THE REGULATIONS ISSUED PURSUANT THERETO, THE STATE MAY EXPAND THE FEDERAL GRANT FUNDS IN ACCORDANCE WITH APPLICABLE STATE LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS, AND STANDARDS GOVERNING EXPENDITURES BY STATE AND LOCAL REHABILITATION AGENCIES. C.F.R. 401.38.

UNDER THE WAR ORPHANS' EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE ACT OF 1956, ASSISTANCE IS FURNISHED ELIGIBLE INDIVIDUALS WITHOUT REGARD TO THEIR FINANCIAL STATUS. SECTION 502 (B) OF THAT ACT, 38 U.S.C. 1034 (B) PROVIDES:

"NO EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE ALLOWANCE OR SPECIAL TRAINING ALLOWANCE SHALL BE PAID ON BEHALF OF ANY ELIGIBLE PERSON UNDER THIS CHAPTER FOR ANY PERIOD DURING WHICH SUCH PERSON IS ENROLLED IN AND PURSUING A COURSE OF EDUCATION OR TRAINING PAID FOR BY THE UNITED STATES UNDER ANY PROVISION OF LAW OTHER THAN THIS CHAPTER, WHERE THE PAYMENT OF AN ALLOWANCE WOULD CONSTITUTE A DUPLICATION OF BENEFITS PAID FROM THE FEDERAL TREASURY TO THE ELIGIBLE PERSON OR TO HIS PARENT OR GUARDIAN IN HIS BEHALF.'

THIS PROVISION WAS INCLUDED IN THE ACT TO INSURE THAT "NO ALLOWANCES WILL BE PAID UNDER THIS ACT FOR PERIODS DURING WHICH THE EDUCATION OF THE ELIGIBLE PERSON IS BEING PAID FOR BY THE UNITED STATES.' SEE PAGE 13, SENATE REPORT NO. 2063 AND PAGE 24, HOUSE REPORT NO. 1974, BOTH ACCOMPANYING H.R. 9824, WHICH BECAME PUBLIC LAW 634. THERE IS NOTHING FURTHER IN THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF SECTION 502 (B) TO INDICATE THE SCOPE OF THE PROVISION.

WE HAVE HELD THAT WHEN FUNDS ARE AUTHORIZED BY LAW TO BE GRANTED TO THE SEVERAL STATES FOR SPECIFIED PURPOSES, THE GRANTED FUNDS BECOME STATE FUNDS, SUBJECT, OF COURSE, TO THE CONDITIONS OF THE GRANT. 28 COMP. GEN. 54. THUS, IT DOES NOT APPEAR THAT A HANDICAPPED OR DISABLED INDIVIDUAL PURSUING A COURSE OF EDUCATION OR TRAINING UNDER A STATE VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION PROGRAM, THE COST OF WHICH IS BEING PAID BY THE STATE FROM FUNDS COMPOSED OF GRANT FUNDS RECEIVED FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UNDER THE VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION ACT AND OTHER STATE MONEYS, MAY BE SAID TO BE "ENROLLED IN AND PURSUING A COURSE OF EDUCATION OR TRAINING PAID FOR BY THE UNITED STATES," WITHIN THE MEANING OF THAT LANGUAGE AS USED IN SECTION 502 (B) OF THE WAR ORPHANS' EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE ACT OF 1956. NOR WOULD THE PAYMENT OF AN ALLOWANCE UNDER THE 1956 ACT TO A PERSON RECEIVING STATE AID UNDER ITS VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION PLAN APPEAR TO CONSTITUTE A DUPLICATION OF BENEFITS PAID FROM THE FEDERAL TREASURY TO THE ELIGIBLE PERSON OR TO HIS PARENT OR GUARDIAN ON HIS BEHALF, SINCE THE PAYMENT UNDER THE VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION PROGRAM WOULD BE MADE FROM THE STATE TREASURY, ALTHOUGH SOME OF THE FUNDS USED BY THE STATE WERE RECEIVED FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

IN CONSTRUING A PROVISION (SECTION 232 (H) OF THE VETERANS READJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE ACT OF 1952, 38 U.S.C. 942, SIMILAR TO SECTION 502 (B), WE STATED IN DECISION OF DECEMBER 5, 1956, B-129269 THAT:

"* * * IT SEEMS CLEAR AS INDICATED IN YOUR LETTER THAT THE PROHIBITION PROVIDED BY SECTION 232 (H) OF THE ACT IS DIRECTED SOLELY AT SITUATIONS WHERE VETERANS ARE RECEIVING EDUCATION AND TRAINING UNDER PROGRAMS SPONSORED BY THE GOVERNMENT AND PAID FOR FROM FEDERAL APPROPRIATIONS. DENIAL OF THE ALLOWANCES MANIFESTLY WAS NOT INTENDED BECAUSE A VETERAN WAS THE RECIPIENT OF A SCHOLARSHIP OR FELLOWSHIP OR SIMILAR EDUCATIONAL BENEFIT FROM A STATE OR OTHER GOVERNING BODY, OR FROM A PUBLIC OR PRIVATE INSTITUTION OR CORPORATION, OR FROM AN INDIVIDUAL GRANTOR. IT MAY, THEREFORE, BE REASONABLY CONCLUDED THAT THERE IS NO LEGAL JUSTIFICATION FOR DENYING THE ALLOWANCES PROVIDED BY THE ACT MERELY BECAUSE THE ECONOMIC BURDEN OF BENEFITS RECEIVED BY THE VETERAN FROM OTHER THAN FEDERAL SOURCES ULTIMATELY MAY SHIFT TO THE GOVERNMENT * * *.'

THIS LANGUAGE WOULD APPEAR TO BE FOR APPLICATION IN THE INSTANT CASE. THE SERVICES FURNISHED UNDER THE STATE VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION PLAN ARE PAID FOR BY THE STATE ALTHOUGH THE ECONOMIC BURDEN OF SOME OF THE COSTS OF THE STATE PROGRAM ARE BORNE BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AS A CONSEQUENCE OF THE GRANTS MADE UNDER THE VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION ACT.

ACCORDINGLY, WE ARE OF THE VIEW THAT PAYMENT OF AN EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE ALLOWANCE UNDER THE WAR ORPHANS' EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE ACT OF 1956 WOULD NOT BE A DUPLICATION OF BENEFITS WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 502 (B) OF THAT ACT UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES SET FORTH IN YOUR LETTER.