A new bill would require public higher education institutions to offer veterans in-state tuition rates.
The 2013 G.I. Bill Tuition Fairness Act is part of “commonsense change” to give veterans greater access to affordable higher education, said Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., who introduced the legislation in the Senate this week.
“Our service members face a unique challenge of establishing residency that often follows them when transitioning back to civilian life,” Boozman said in a statement Friday. “By requiring schools that are eligible for G.I. bill benefits to charge any veteran the in-state tuition rate, we can remove this barrier to affordable higher education for the men and women who sacrificed for our nation.”
The legislation would give the Veterans Affairs secretary authority to “disapprove a course of education” if the institution does not provide in-state benefits. That authority applies to all educational benefits distributed by the Veterans Affairs Department. Veterans would be able to take advantage of the law after August 1, 2014.
Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., who introduced companion legislation in the house in January, said the bill was created because returning veterans had served all 50 states and the “educational benefits they receive from the taxpayers should reflect that.”
According to VA statistics, nearly 924,000 veterans began using educational benefits in fiscal 2011, with payments totaling $10.5 billion. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., a cosponsor of Boozman’s bill, said the legislation would help reduce the challenges veterans face when coming home, and help provide an affordable education.
“This measure is aimed at getting at least one hurdle out of the way, and helping veterans get their life started again,” Nelson said in a statement.