Education Industry Reporter

Senator Durbin Introduces Veterans Education Equity Act of 2013; Similar to House Bill from Chairman Jeff Miller

Posted in Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, Military Education

Larry LevinsonCONTRIBUTED BY
Larry Levinson
Dennis Cariello

Earlier today, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced S. 262, “A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide equity for tuition and fees for individuals entitled to educational assistance under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs who are pursuing programs of education at institutions of higher learning, and for other purposes.”  This bill, which was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, was read into the Congressional Record earlier today.  Recall that on February 4, 2013,  Chairman Jeff Miller (FL-1) released the text of H.R. 357, which has a similar objective.  Given that similar bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate by the parties in the majority, it would stand to reason that such legislation has a fairly decent chance of passage at some point.  The text of S.262, as well as Senator Durbin’s floor statement is reprinted after the jump.

CONGRESSIONAL RECORD

SENATE SPEECHES AND INSERTS

PAGE S526

Feb. 7, 2013

 STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS

By Mr. DURBIN:

S. 262. A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide equity for tuition and fees for individuals entitled to educational assistance under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs who are pursuing programs of education at institutions of higher learning, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Mr. DURBIN. The original GI Bill proved to be a landmark initiative for our troops and an outstanding investment in the future of our nation. The Post 9/11 GI bill, signed into law in 2008, built on the success of the original program by providing helpful and hard-earned educational and economic benefits for our newest generation of veterans.

Just as the veterans of WWII were the engine of economic recovery and expansion in the postwar period, the most recent generation of veterans will continue their service to America by reaching their full educational and economic potential through the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

In January 2011, Congress made further changes to the Post 9/11 GI Bill which caps the amount of education benefits for veterans enrolled in private colleges at $17,500 and limits the education benefit for veterans enrolled in public colleges to the amount charged for in-state tuition and fees. That seemed reasonable, but what we have learned is that many veterans are not eligible for in-state tuition. And the cost difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition for public universities can be substantial.

Current law unintentionally burdens a significant number of veterans, requiring them to pay thousands of dollars in out of pocket costs for non-resident tuition and fee rates. These costs add up over the course of a college career—so much so that veterans often drop out of college or transfer to another school, with a significant amount of debt and without an actual degree. But veterans at private schools have their tuition covered up to $18,077.

I am introducing the Veterans Equity Act of 2013 to remedy the inequality between benefits for those at a private institution and those at a public school charging out-of-state fees. This bill would allow veterans who are considered non-residents of the state school they attend to receive up to $18,077 in tuition benefits, the same benefit that would be available to that veteran if attending a private institution.

This legislation is supported by American Council on Education, Association of State Colleges and Universities, Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, Association of American Universities and the American Association of Community Colleges.

I am deeply concerned that some for-profit institutions may be abusing G.I. tuition payments by aggressively targeting veterans for academic programs that may not provide value to students, such as preparation for future employment. The Veterans Equity Act will help more veterans attend public institutions without significant out of pocket costs.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

S. 262

 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

 This Act may be cited as the “Veterans Education Equity Act of 2013”.

SEC. 2. PROTECTING EQUITY FOR TUITION AND FEES FOR INDIVIDUALS ENTITLED TO ASSISTANCE UNDER THE POST-9/11 EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM WHO ARE PURSUING PROGRAMS OF EDUCATION AT INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING.

 (a) In General.—Clause (i) of subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1) of subsection (c) of section 3313 of title 38, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

“(i) In the case of a program of education pursued at a public institution of higher learning, the lesser of—

“(I) the actual net cost for tuition and fees assessed by the institution for the program of education after the application of—

“(aa) any waiver of, or reduction in, tuition and fees; and

“(bb) any scholarship, or other Federal, State, institutional, or employer-based aid or assistance (other than loans and any funds provided under section 401(b) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1070a)) that is provided directly to the institution and specifically designated for the sole purpose of defraying tuition and fees; or

“(II) the greater of—

“(aa) the actual net cost for in-State tuition and fees assessed by the institution for the program of education after the application of—

“(AA) any waiver of, or reduction in, tuition and fees; and

“(BB) any scholarship, or other Federal, State, institutional, or employer-based aid or assistance (other than loans and any funds provided under section 401(b) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1070a)) that is provided directly to the institution and specifically designated for the sole purpose of defraying tuition and fees; or

“(bb) the amount equal to—

“(AA) for the academic year beginning on August 1, 2011, $17,500; or

“(BB) for any subsequent academic year, the amount in effect for the previous academic year under this subclause, as increased by the percentage increase equal to the most recent percentage increase determined under section 3015(h) of this title.”.

(b) Effective Date.—The amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply with respect to the payment of educational assistance for an academic year beginning on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.