At White House, Tester’s Bipartisan Bill Expanding In-State Tuition Benefits for Veterans’ Surviving Family Members is Signed into Law

Chairman attended White House signing ceremony of four veterans’ bills, including his Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fairness for Survivors Act

(U.S. Senate) – Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester today joined his colleagues at the White House for the singing of four veterans’ bills—including Tester’s bipartisan Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fairness for Survivors Act that expands in-state tuition eligibility for the families of veterans who die from service-connected disabilities. This legislation passed the House earlier this month following successful passage in the Senate on June 25, 2021.

“Today marks a huge step forward for surviving family members in Montana and across the country who will now have expanded access to affordable, in-state tuition in return for their sacrifices,” said Chairman Tester. “This new law is a testament to what Congress can accomplish when we row in the same direction, and I’m proud to have worked alongside Ranking Member Moran and veterans’ advocates to deliver this critical support to the families of our nation’s fallen heroes.”

“We can’t thank Senators Moran and Tester enough for their work in getting this bill passed,” said Kelly McHugh, daughter of Colonel John M. McHugh. “Education was important to our father, so having his name attached to a bill that will assist other Gold Star families as they pursue their college educations is a huge honor.”

“TAPS is grateful for the passage of the Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fairness for Survivors Act, which passed the Senate in June and was signed into law this morning,” said Bonnie Carroll, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) President and Founder. “The law will ensure that the over 150,000 Chapter 35 recipients will be able to afford to attend the college of their choice, by guaranteeing in-state tuition for all surviving spouses and children.”  

The Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fairness for Survivors Act requires public colleges and universities that receive GI Bill benefits to provide in-state tuition rates for students using the Dependents Education Assistance—a program that provides VA education benefits, including tuition, housing and book stipends, to the children or spouse of a servicemember who is permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability, died while on active duty prior to 9/11, or dies as a result of a service-connected disability. Named after U.S. Army Colonel John McHugh, this legislation helps reduce the out-of-pocket education costs for surviving spouses and children.

As Chairman, Tester proudly joined President Biden and his colleagues for the signing of three additional veterans’ bills today, including legislation that requires the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study on disparities associated with race and ethnicity with respect to certain benefits administered by the VA, the Hire Veteran Health Heroes Act of 2021, and the Protecting Moms Who Served Act of 2021