Veterans currently attending private colleges and universities that charge more than $17,500 in tuition and fees won’t see their tuition spike next month after all, after Congress approved a change to the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill on Monday night. But veterans using their benefits to attend public universities in states where they are not residents might still have to come up with thousands of dollars on their own to pay for their studies after Aug. 1.
The bill, H.R. 1383, is another attempt to fine-tune the program’s method of paying for veterans’ education. Under the original Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, payments were capped at the combination of the highest in-state tuition and fees in a given state, which resulted in benefits that varied widely from state to state. In December, Congress voted to simplify the formula, capping payments at $17,500 nationwide. The move was widely supported by veterans’ groups and higher education organizations.
The change, which goes into effect Aug. 1., would primarily affect veterans in seven states — Arizona, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas — where the maximum payment was previously more than $17,500. The original legislation did not provide for students who were already attending college, meaning that they would have to figure out how to close the gap once the new formula goes into effect next week.
The Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that the change would affect about 6,000 students.
The change means that students who were enrolled at private colleges before Jan. 4 may now complete their studies under the prior reimbursement rates. But students who are paying more than $17,500 in tuition at public institutions in states where they are not residents were not included in the Congressional fix. Neither are students attending technical programs with low tuition but very high fees, such as some in aeronautical engineering, said Tom Tarantino, senior legislative associate with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a veterans’ advocacy group.
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