The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held a hearing April 10 on numerous pieces of pending and draft legislation related to in-state tuition rates for veterans, the Transition Assistance Programs (TAP), the Department of Veterans Affairs work-study program and other bills.
The primary focus of the hearing was H.R. 357, a bill that would require institutions eligible for GI Bill education benefits to give veterans in-state tuition rates regardless of residency status. The Post-9/11 GI Bill covers the full cost of in-state tuition at public universities, but not the additional fees out-of-state students are charged.
Colleges and universities that don’t offer in-state tuition for all veterans would be ineligible to receive GI Bill money under the proposal.
While ACE and most in the higher education community support the goal of this measure, there is some concern about how the bill might be implemented in individual states because the processes of establishing state tuition policies are widely varied.
In the vast majority of states, public institutions do not have tuition-setting authority and so the state legislature would need to change the law in order for institutions to comply with the bill. In other states, veterans already receive in-state rates at any public institution.
“Given the complexity of relying on 40 state entities to change policies, it is quite likely that institutions will not have the ability to charge in-state rates even if they so desired,” Susan Aldridge, senior fellow at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, told the subcommittee. “Veterans wanting to enroll in public institutions in those states would need to seek other, more-than-likely, costlier programs in order to utilize their GI Bill benefit. Veterans would be forced to either move to a state that offered in-state tuition, go to a more expensive private institution, or attend a for-profit college.”
The subcommittee has scheduled further action on the bills in late April.