The Honorable Mike McIntyre (NC-07)
Chairman Miller, Ranking Member Filner, and Members of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee:
I submit this testimony in support of the Veterans Education Equity Act of 2011, H.R. 3483, legislation I sponsored with Congressman G.K. Butterfield. This important measure would equalize veterans’ tuition benefits under the Post 9/11 G. I. Bill and change an inequity in existing law which allots more education funds to veterans enrolled in private colleges than those in public institutions. I would also like to highlight my constituent, Sgt. Jason Thigpen, who is testifying today, and the organization he started, the Student Veterans Advocacy Group at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, which was instrumental in formulating this legislation.
As you know, the Post 9/11 Veterans’ Educational Improvements Assistance Act capped the education benefit amount for veterans who enroll in private colleges at $17,500 and limited the education benefit for those who enroll in public colleges to the amount charged for resident tuition and fees. The current law unintentionally burdens a significant number of American veterans, requiring them to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket in non-residential tuition rates. This could add up to more than $100,000 in certain states.
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 resident tuition exceeds $17,500, the bill would cover the full cost of tuition. The bill makes no changes to existing law for veterans who choose to attend private colleges and universities.
This legislation is absolutely essential to thousands of veterans who were promised funding for their college education. Already, numerous veterans have had to drop out, transfer, or assume tremendous financial burdens due to the recent change in law. This legislation is vital to give all veterans an equal opportunity to afford the school of their choice. Therefore, I respectfully request your important consideration and support of this measure that will restore equal education benefits for all veterans.
Member of Congress