The Post-9/11 GI Bill is one of the most popular benefits among the military community, and its use is on the rise. Nearly 500,000 people took advantage of the benefits in 2012, which was a 13 percent jump from the year before. Yet, while the bill has helped many servicemembers complete degrees after leaving the military, some have been charged out-of-state prices at public universities, which could drastically increase expenses. In an effort to stop the practice, legislation is making its way through Congress, reports Military Times.
First house, then Senate
The push to take action against public institutions charging out-of-state prices began earlier in May, when a bill known as GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act, made its way through the House of Representatives. The law would require public universities to offer in-state prices if they want to receive payment from the GI Bill, which is often a boon for the school's that do. If implemented, the bill would not go into effect until the summer of 2015.
There has been a similar movement in the Senate, where the Veterans' Educational Transition Act looks to accomplish a similar goal. According to the publication, there is one small difference, however: The Senate measure would require veterans to use their benefits within two years of separating from service to get in-state tuition. They would also have to reside in the specified state during their enrollment.
Revising how schools bill their servicemember students is an important cause among many lawmakers, especially longtime Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. He introduced the Senate bill and said it's important for schools to offer in-state tuition because of how soldiers often do not know where they'll be stationed.
"Given the nature of our armed forces, servicemembers have little to no say as to where they serve and where they reside during their military service," Sanders said. "When transitioning servicemembers consider what educational institution they want to attend, many of them choose a school in their home state or a state where they previously served."
A big help
Making it easier for servicemember to afford school can help take a bite out of the unemployment rate among veterans. By reducing obstacles, troops may be better able to attain certification and licensing that can help them land jobs once they leave the Armed Forces.