Representatives G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) and Mike McIntyre (NC-07) today announced the introduction of H.R. 3483, the Veterans' Education Equity Act of 2011, to reward equal educational benefits to veterans whether they choose to attend a private or public institution of higher learning. The bill would change an inequity in existing law which allots more education funds to veterans enrolled in private colleges than those in public institutions. Currently, the Post 9-11 Veterans' Educational Improvements Assistance Act capped the education benefit amount for veterans who enroll in private schools at $17,500 and limited the education benefit for those who enroll in public schools to the amount charged for resident tuition and fees. The Veterans' Education Equity Act of 2011 would remedy this inequality and allow all veterans to receive up to $17,500 in education benefits. However, if in-state tuition exceeds $17,500, the bill would cover the full cost of tuition.
"The current law unintentionally burdens a significant number of American soldiers, requiring them to pay out-of-pocket thousands of dollars in nonresidential tuition rates, which could add up to more than $100,000 in North Carolina," said Butterfield. "This legislation is an important step towards honoring those who serve and helping them prepare for civilian life."
Representative Mike McIntyre stated, "Our veterans are courageous individuals who have been on the front lines defending our freedom and values, and they should not be denied their opportunity to pursue an education. Let's support our student veterans and make sure they do not have to worry about in-state versus out-of-state tuition. This is the right thing to do!"
"It is important for those who have sacrificed so much for this country to not be discriminated against for choosing public institutions to achieve their educational goals," said Representative Walter Jones (NC-03), an original cosponsor of the bill. "This bill is about equitable access, and I am proud to be a cosponsor."
The bill has received the support of such organizations as the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, The University of North Carolina, the North Carolina Community College System, and Student Veterans Advocacy Group of North Carolina. Representative Dennis Cardoza (CA-18) is also an original cosponsor of this bill.