Many servicemembers make use of the GI Bill to help them achieve their educational goals after leaving the military. In fact, nearly 500,000 people took advantage of this popular benefit in 2012, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Now, a new proposal is making its way through Congress that would help troops out even more, but it is meeting some pushback from schools. The two bills would require public universities to offer servicemembers and veterans in-state tuition, but critics claim that could cause a significant blow to the schools' revenue, according to Military Times.
Tuition changes have support
There are two bills that are causing issues. The first, the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act, would require schools to reduce tuition rates for military students, while the other, the Veterans Education Equity Act, focuses on schools offering non-resident students resident tuition rates. So far, only the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act has been approved by a congressional committee. Even still, any efforts to make it easier, and more affordable, for veterans and servicemembers to return to school have been applauded by advocacy groups, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars. They point to the fact that having to pay out-of-state rates often takes a significant toll on veterans' finances.
"This oversight forces veterans to either drop out or find other ways to pay for college through financial aid programs, full-time employment or amassing student loan debt even when they make a good faith effort to legally reside in a state and attend a public school," Ryan Gallucci of the VFW told the news source.
Not everyone's on board
Although the schools do not question the fact that troops deserve their well-earned education benefits, some of their criticisms stem from the fact that there isn't enough time to implement significant changes in their state laws. The biggest issues stem from the fact that the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act requires states to change their laws by 2014. In testimony before the Senate, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities said that's simply not enough time.
A far reaching impact
Changes to the GI Bill could have an impact on a large number of troops in the near future. The U.S. is still on course to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and the Army is looking to trim thousands of soldiers over the next several years.