Virginia lawmakers strike deal to repeal restrictions on military tuition program | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Virginia lawmakers strike deal to repeal restrictions on military tuition program

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — After weeks of disagreement, Virginia lawmakers have reached a deal to repeal new restrictions on a program that offers free college tuition at state schools for families of military veterans who were killed or seriously disabled while on active duty.

Senate Finance Chair Louise Lucas and House Appropriations Chairman Luke Torian announced late Tuesday that they plan to introduce identical legislation to repeal changes to the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program in the two-year budget that took effect on Monday. Members of the Senate and the House of Delegates will return to Richmond on July 18 to vote on the agreement.

The new legislation will propose an additional $90 million in taxpayer funds to pay for the program, in addition to the $40 million already included in the budget. The program’s costs have risen from $12 million to $65 million in five years. Previously, state colleges and universities have covered the costs with state funds and tuition from other students.

Lucas said the new proposal would set aside $65 million each year for the program, while the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission studies it, along with a task force appointed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin and a Senate work group.

“This study and the allocation of what now will be $65 million per year for the program provides me with the comfort that we will not place the burden of the escalating cost of the program on other students through their tuition charges,” Lucas said in a statement.

To rein in the program's rising costs, the budget deal passed by the General Assembly in May restricted eligibility to associate and undergraduate degrees, required participants to apply for other forms of financial aid and tightened residency requirements.

After vehement protests from military families, the House of Delegates voted last week to repeal the new restrictions, but the Senate took no action after meeting twice in two weeks to work on the issue.

Youngkin praised the agreement.

“A full, clean repeal with additional financial support for the VMSDEP program, unencumbered by any other provisions, is great news for our military heroes, first responders, and their families,” Youngkin posted on the social platform X.

News from © The Associated Press, 2024
The Associated Press

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