Durbin to VA: Allow veterans to use all education benefits

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called on the Department of Veterans Affairs to allow service members to use both federal and state education benefits.

Durbin said currently veterans in states such as Illinois are being forced to spend down all of their state education benefits before having access to federal benefits. His home state has applied for a waiver from this federal requirement.

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“They shouldn’t have to choose between their state benefits and the federal benefits they were promised,” Durbin said on Monday. “The state of Illinois’ waiver request is common sense and I urge the Department of Veterans Affairs to approve it right away.”

Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits are paid to veterans for tuition, books and housing, but states can also offer benefits. Durbin said the intent of Congress was not to have veterans pick to use federal benefits over state benefits, but that both could be utilized at the same time.

“It was not the intent of Congress to require veteran students in a state like Illinois, which provides 100 percent tuition and fee coverage for eligible veterans, spouses, and children, to choose between their state benefits and the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits,” Durbin wrote in a letter to the VA. “The requested waiver would marry the Post-9/11 GI Bill with Illinois’ state benefit programs.”

In his letter, Durbin asked the VA to grant Illinois and other states waivers so that all the benefits can be used to help veterans achieve a higher education.