Veterans and their dependents will qualify for in-state tuition at public universities regardless of residency under a bipartisan agreement to bolster the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The legislation, which will also provide veterans with easier access to medical care, passed in the Senate late yesterday and the House on July 30 and was sent to President Barack Obama for signing. It would cost about $17 billion.
Letting veterans pay in-state tuition in any state underscores efforts by Congress and the Obama administration to make college more affordable and reduce the $1.2 trillion in U.S. higher-education debt. In-state residents pay less for tuition at public universities than out-of-state students do.
“This is a real game changer in the use of the GI bill,” said Matt Randle, chief operating officer at Student Veterans of America, a Washington-based advocacy group. “What we are saying to our veterans is that we want you to pick the school that provides the most value and benefit to you.”
To qualify, veterans must have served for at least 90 days in active duty and must enroll in a college within three years of being discharged or released.
“I’m glad Congress has finally taken this step for veterans who are transitioning to civilian life,” Senator Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican and sponsor of the provision, said in a statement.
The House bill is H.R. 3230.