Weekly Columns

Students are getting ready to hit the books and many have the ultimate goal of pursuing a college degree. With the growing cost of tuition, the goal of higher education is often overwhelming for many people. This takes a serious financial toll on Arkansas families and individuals and requires planning to pay for this expense. This can be especially true for our veterans. That’s why we’re working to reduce the pressure and stress of paying increasing tuition for our men and women who served in uniform. 

The life of Armed Forces members often requires many re-locations. The constant movement of our active duty military makes it difficult for them to have a place to call ‘home.’ As a result, obtaining in-state residency for college is more and more difficult.

As public colleges and universities seek ways to recoup decreasing revenues, many have significantly raised the costs of out-of-state tuition. The cap for GI Bill benefits often falls short of that high out-of-state rate and we’re working to change that.

In 2008, Congress passed the Post 9/11 GI bill which allows for veterans to receive in-state tuition rates, but they are faced with mounting bills to attend out-of-state schools. While the VA’s Yellow Ribbon Program seeks to address the disparity in costs and allows states to enter into an agreement with the VA to fund tuition expenses at the higher out-of-state rate, not all schools participate and the entire cost is not covered, leaving our veterans with a significant out-of-pocket cost. 

Earlier this year Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and I introduced legislation requiring that schools eligible for GI Bill education benefits provide veterans in-state tuition rates regardless of the veteran’s residency status. By requiring states that receive GI Bill benefit payments to offer all veterans in-state tuition, Congress can stay true to the intent of the GI Bill by empowering our veterans with greater freedom to pursue their education goals. 

Our men and women who stand in defense of our country serve all 50 states and we need to reflect that in the benefits they earned. We can accomplish this in a cost-effective manner. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates our bill would save the federal government $179 million over 10 years. Saving money and extending benefits is something we should be working toward. 

There is a lot of preparation underway to make the school year a success and we can eliminate some of the added planning our veterans need do to attend college. They deserve our help in the education process and this is a commonsense approach to providing them with what they need to be successful in future employment.

Related Posts