House bill would require in-state tuition rates for veterans

The House is expected to pass legislation next week that would require colleges to give veterans in-state tuition rates, regardless of their place of residence.

House GOP leaders will bring up the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act, H.R. 357. The bill should easily pass the House; it was approved by the House Veterans Affairs last summer by a voice vote.

ADVERTISEMENT
The Veterans Affairs Committee says the bill is needed because it's not fair to require veterans to pay out-of-state tuition rates just because they live out of state. "[T]he 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 committee said in a report accompanying the bill.

The committee also said charging out-of-state veterans higher rates amounts to a requirement that these veterans subsidize the education of in-state students.

"[T]hose who have served in the military should not be required to subsidize the education of the majority who did not," it wrote. "It is absolutely inappropriate that schools balance their revenue streams on the backs of veterans and the nation's taxpayers who are providing very generous education benefit."

Regardless of whether students are veterans or not, most schools charge a much higher rate for out-of-state enrollees. The committee found that on average, this rate is about $13,000 higher for out-of-state students.

Under the current GI Bill, veterans can use their veterans benefits to pay in-state rates but have to come up with their own money if they wish to attend a school outside their home state.

The legislation up next week would require schools to give veterans the in-state rate, starting in August 2014. Schools that don't comply would not be able to receive GI Bill benefits as payment for enrolling veterans.

The bill says, "the Secretary or the Secretary's designee shall disapprove a course of education provided by a public educational institution unless the institution charges tuition and fees for a veteran at up to the same  rate as the institution charges for residents of the State in which the  institution is located, regardless of the veteran's State of residence."