In-State Tuition for Veterans and Military Families

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A White House statement about improving G.I. Bill benefits resulted in confusion about whether public colleges and universities are required to provide in-state tuition rates to military families.

The confusing statement, issued in advance of Veterans Day, said federal law “requires public colleges to provide in-state tuition to veterans and eligible dependents in order for the school to remain eligible to receive G.I. Bill education payments.”

That is not completely true. The Veterans Choice Act of 2014 contains a requirement that state schools could only charge in-state tuition for some students using the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, but it does not apply to everyone. It applies only to students using Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits. For dependents, the in-state tuition requirement is only binding if benefits are transferred from a parent who is a veteran and no longer on active duty. Dependents of current service members are not covered by the in-state tuition provisions of the Veterans Choice Act.

Residency requirements for in-state tuition vary from state to state, and sometimes for public schools within a state, so it is still possible that the spouse or child of an active-duty member might be guaranteed lower in-state tuition rates. The best place to find out this information is from each college or university.

A bill pending before Congress, H.R. 3016, would also make active-duty dependents eligible for in-state tuition if they are using transferred Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits, but it would not cover tuition rates for military family members who are not using the G.I. Bill.