As discussed in a previous post, the state-to-state disparity when it comes to the GI Bill has been a major issue among veterans who are choosing to pursue a college education. The problem has been that most states have wildly differing laws on the books on what constitutes an “in-state” student. Some have enacted legislation to give veterans some exemptions or leeway on these rules, while many others have not.
If a veteran is eligible for GI Bill benefits, but is an out-of-state student, then the GI Bill can only pay what they would if the veteran were an in-state student. Unfortunately, the nomadic nature of military service often makes it difficult for a veteran to declare state residency, especially if they want to attend a college soon after they finish their service, but don’t have the required year-long tenure within that state.
Fortunately, the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Rep. Jeff Miller, and Ranking Member, Mike Michaud, have introduced legislation to address and solve this common problem. The GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013 “would require schools eligible for GI Bill education benefits to give veterans in-state tuition rates even though they may not be residents of the states where the schools are located.”
As Ranking Member Michaud stated, “Because of the nature of military service, veterans often have a difficult time establishing residency for purposes of obtaining in-state tuition rates.”
According to the press release issued by the Committee, the bill is a bipartisan effort that has already received an outpouring of support from nonprofit groups, such as the Student Veterans of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Disabled Veterans National Foundation (DVNF) is also pleased with this bill, because if it passes, the bill will help veterans make a college decision based on their own personal criteria, rather than having their decision influenced by a lack of funds. It will also clear up confusion on what constitutes in-state tuition, and will make veterans’ GI Bill benefits that much more effective. This bill is long overdue, and there are likely thousands of veterans it would impact directly.