New Legislation Bill Would Level the GI Bill Tuition Playing Field

A recent issue that has been getting a lot of attention is veterans’ state residency status for GI Bill tuition purposes. Servicemembers just getting out of the military are having to pay out-state tuition rates because they have not lived in their chosen state long enough to claim residency, which is most cases requires one year. With bi-partisan legislation recently introduced in the House of Representatives, public colleges and universities would be forced to charge nonresident veterans the in-state resident rate if they want to continue to receive payments from the VA for GI Bill non-resident students attending their schools.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-FL and Rep. Michael Michaud, D-ME, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman and top Committee Democrat respectively, cosponsored the legislation that if passed would help up to 40,000 student veterans whom are paying the difference between resident and non-resident tuition rates.

The GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act would prevent the VA from approving public colleges and universities who charge veteran students the non-resident rate; both bill cosponsors are from states that are doing just that.

The men and women who served this nation did not just defend the citizens of their home states, but the citizens of all 50 states. The educational benefits they receive from the taxpayers should reflect that.” Miller said. He went on to say “By offering in-state tuition, service members can attend an institution of higher learning that meets their specific needs without worrying about higher costs which non-residents often must pay”.

If passed, the new rule would take effect on Aug. 1, 2014; the delayed effective date gives schools time to prepare for the change.

While the new legislation would not cost the Department of Veterans Affairs anything, it would have an immediate bottom-line effect at the effective date for schools having high veteran nonresident populations and not complying with the legislation. However with more and more veterans going to school, a trend that is anticipated to continue as the war in Afghanistan starts to wind down and the military draw-down begins., these educational institutions stand to make up this difference with more GI Bill money from the VA due to increased veteran student populations.

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