Congress Moves To Block VA Benefits For Programs That Charge Out-Of-State Tuition

By Joan Berkes, Policy & Federal Relations Staff 

The House and Senate have passed measures that will prohibit the Veterans Administration from approving educational programs at public institutions that charge more than in-state tuition rates for certain veterans. The respective tuition provisions differ slightly and the bills also address other veterans’ issues, such as use of VA hospitals, which differ between the House and Senate, so the bills must be conferenced before an agreed-upon compromise may be sent to the President for his signature.

The provision in both the House and Senate is applicable to the All-Volunteer Force Educational Assistance Program and the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program, also known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill (chapters 30 and 33). The House and Senate versions of the tuition provision differ only in that the Senate would apply the in-state tuition requirement to children of veterans who died in the line of duty and to dependents to whom a veteran assigns his or her post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, while the House applies it only to the veterans themselves. 

If enacted, the measure as passed by both chambers would penalize public institutions that charge higher than in-state tuition to a student who was discharged or released from active service less than three years before he or she enrolled, provided the length of service was at least 90 days. The in-state tuition provision would only apply if the student is living in the state in which the institution is located while attending, but regardless of the student’s official state of residence. This cause for disapproval of educational programs for VA benefits would also apply to any subsequent program in which a student covered by the requirement enrolls (at the same school) if there is no unscheduled break between enrollments.

Under both bills, an institution would be permitted to require veterans to demonstrate an intent to establish residency in the state or to satisfy other requirements not relating to the establishment of residency, in order to be charged in-state (or lower) tuition and fees.

The House bill was passed with an effective date of July 1, 2016, while the Senate uses an effective date of July 1, 2015. In both cases the effective date means courses of education that commence on or after that date.

 

Publication Date: 6/19/2014


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