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Bill: Require in-state tuition for GI Bill vets

Jan. 23, 2013 - 03:01PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 23, 2013 - 03:01PM  |  
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Public colleges and universities would be pressured to charge in-state tuition for nonresident veterans under bipartisan legislation introduced Tuesday in the House of Representatives.

The GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act would bar public colleges and universities from being approved to receive any veterans' education benefits unless they charge the same rate of tuition and fees for nonresident veterans as they do for in-state students.

The new rule would take effect on Aug. 1, 2014, under terms of HR 357. The delayed effective date is intended to give public colleges and universities time to prepare for the change.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., the House Veterans' Affairs Committee chairman, and Rep. Michael Michaud of Maine, the committee's top Democrat, are cosponsors of a measure that would help up to 40,000 student veterans who, under current rules, have to pay the difference between in-state tuition, which is covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and out-of-state tuition if they are attending school as a nonresident.

Miller and Michaud both represent states that charge higher tuition for nonresident veterans than for veterans who have resided in a state for at least 12 months.

For Miller, the question is more about the duty performed by a service member than where they've lived.

"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," Miller said in a statement. "The educational benefits they receive from the taxpayers should reflect that."

"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," Miller said.

Michaud said the bill addresses a problem of veterans often having difficulty establishing residency in any state for the purposes of paying lower in-state tuition. "This bill will address this problem and ensure that veterans can access the affordable higher education options they have earned."

There is no cost to the Veterans Affairs Department from the Miller-Michaud approach, but state schools with large populations of out-of-state veterans — including Florida and California — would receive less money in direct payments from VA for Post-9/11 GI Bill payments.

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