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Support grows for 'Veterans Educational Equity Act'

Posted: May 20, 2009 5:14 p.m.
Updated: May 20, 2009 8:25 p.m.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Yesterday, Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-Calif.), along with Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), introduced the Veterans Educational Equity Act (H.R. 2474), which has since won overwhelming support from the California delegation.

McKeon, the top Republican on the Education & Labor Committee and a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, crafted H.R. 2474 in response to reports that veterans would face an unfair reduction in benefits in California under the post-9/11 GI Bill.

"I'm glad to see everyone coming together on this issue, because starting in August, I think hundreds of thousands of student vets will be unpleasantly surprised to find they don't have the education dollars they were expecting through the post-9/11 GI Bill," McKeon said. "I know this means a lot to the state, the California delegation, and our nation's veterans. It needs to be addressed quickly."

Earlier today in a House Education & Labor Committee hearing, McKeon pressed Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for his thoughts on the issue. Duncan immediately proclaimed that fixing the problem is a "no-brainer."

Under California law, public institutions of higher education may not charge tuition to in-state residents. Because the state's public colleges and universities charge no tuition, their fees are often considerably higher than the amount of fees charged by private institutions that are permitted to levy a tuition cost.

The post-9/11 GI Bill calculates a veteran's educational benefits based on the public tuition and fees charged to an in-state resident.

For example, based on the amount charged by public institutions to in-state residents, the Department of Veterans Affairs has determined the maximum tuition benefit for California veterans to be $0, while the maximum fee benefit can equal up to $6,586.54.

Thus, in California, veterans receive no tuition benefit and are often only allowed to use a fraction of their fee allotment at a private institution of higher education, where fees are lower.

The McKeon-Thompson legislation would ensure California veterans can benefit from the full amount - up to $6,586.54 - to which they are entitled.


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