House votes to give vets in-state tuition rates

The House on Monday approved legislation that would require colleges around the country to give veterans in-state tuition rates regardless of where those veterans live.

Members voted 390-0 to pass H.R. 357, the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), said the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition averages $13,000 a year, and said veterans shouldn't have to pay that difference because they defended the entire country, not just one state.

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"The men and women who served this nation did not just defend the citizens of their own home states, but the citizens of all 50 states," he said. "The educational benefits they receive from the taxpayers should reflect the same reality."

Under the bill, schools that don't give vets in-state tuition rates would not be able to accept any GI Bill funds as payment for enrolling veterans. Supporters of the bill say veterans often have trouble establishing residency in certain states because of the nature of their time in the military, and say this bill would end that problem.

The bill also takes other steps, including extending authorization for monthly assistance to disabled veterans, expanding a housing program, and allowing veterans to access government job training and rehabilitation programs for up to 17 years after they were discharged, instead of 12 years.

It also requires other enhancements to veterans job training programs, and disability compensation for veterans.

Miller's bill was one of two non-controversial suspension bills the House passed today. The other H.R. 1791, the Medical Preparedness Allowable Use Act.

This bill would make clear that federal grants to states under a homeland security grant program can be used to stockpile medicines and otherwise enhance medical preparedness. This bill passed in a 391-2 vote.