House Passes Sens. Moran, Tester’s Bill to Expand In-State Tuition Benefits for Surviving Family Members
WASHINGTON – This evening, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) – ranking member and chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee – to expand in-state tuition eligibility for the families of veterans who die from service-connected disabilities. The Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fairness for Survivors Act passed the Senate on June 25, 2021 and will now go to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
“Military service is family service,” said Ranking Member Moran. “This country has made a commitment to care for the families of fallen servicemembers. I applaud the House of Representatives for passing this bipartisan legislation to help fulfill that commitment and make certain that the surviving families of our fallen servicemembers, receive the education benefits their loved ones earned for them through their service to this nation. I urge the President to quickly sign this legislation into law.”
“It’s on us to make sure military families across this nation have access to quality benefits and education opportunities in return for their sacrifices,” said Chairman Tester. “House passage of our bipartisan bill means we’re one step away from expanding affordable, in-state tuition to survivors who deserve this critical support, and I urge the President to quickly sign it into law.”
The Dependents Education Assistance (DEA) program 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.
While any veteran, servicemember or survivor qualifying for the Fry Scholarship, or any dependent using transferred entitlement under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, is eligible for in-state tuition at any state school in the country, DEA recipients are currently excluded by law from receiving the same in-state tuition benefit.
The Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fairness for Survivors Act will require public colleges and universities that receive GI Bill benefits to provide in-state tuition rates for students using DEA. Named after U.S. Army Colonel John McHugh, this legislation will help reduce the out-of-pocket education costs for surviving spouses and children.
U.S. Army Colonel John McHugh was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2010 while he and his family were stationed at Fort Leavenworth. His daughter was attending Kansas State University at the time of his death. While children whose parent died before August 1, 2011 have access to both the Fry Scholarship and DEA, this legislation would make certain families, like Colonel McHugh’s family, are eligible to receive the in-state tuition rate when using DEA benefits.
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