There has been an education bill in the works in Congress that directly impacts Military Service members. It is a program designed to help and support military families wishing to pursue higher education. Some of the elements of the bill include:
-Special education centers to assist Veterans toward finishing college degrees.
-Scholarship money for various groups of Servicemembers and their families.
-Mandatory In-state tuition for many families of Servicemembers.
HR Bill 4137 has passed the House of Representatives, and the Education bill is now slated to travel to the Senate. Changes are possible, but not likely. The Bill has enjoyed a majority of bi-partisan support, and passed easily by a vote of 354-58 in the House of Representatives last Thursday. This bill could be the start of a positive year for military education opportunities. President Bush has said that he personally supports allowing Servicemembers to transfer part of their Montgomery GI Bill benefits to dependents or their spouse to use.
The sponsors of the bill in the House were Ms. Nancy Boyda, Democrat from Kansas, and Chet Edwards, Democrat from Texas. Both Representatives favor the in-state tuition requirement. According to the present wording of the HR 4137 bill, if a Servicemember is either stationed in the state, or a resident of the state when the student starts college then the student should be considered “In-state” for tuition purposes. As long as the student continued to attend, if the military Servicemember sponsor is transferred their in-state status would not change. “Families of Servicemembers are sometimes penalized when their parent or spouse is reassigned. That is not right,” said Representative Edwards.
“Giving the children and spouses of Servicemembers the right to access in state tuition in the United States no matter where they live helps compensate these families when the Servicemember is transferred,” said Edwards. Representative Edwards also is the chairman of the subcommittee for House Appropriations overseeing quality of life programs for the military.
Other features of the new bill include scholarships for Servicemembers on active duty, their spouses, and children. Creating new centers to assist veterans is another important feature of the house bill. Preventing interest on student loans for reserve or active troops serving in a combat area of operations is an attached bit of legislation sponsored by Representative Susan Davis, Democrat from California. It would provide a freeze on all interest on school loans for up to five years.
With support from the Bush White House, and also a pledge of support from Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison that the passage of this bill within a short time is predicted.