The bill requires that public colleges let veterans qualify for in-state tuition rates.

By Jordain Carney

Public universities will have to offer in-state rates for tuition and fees to veterans or face a financial penalty under a bill approved by House members Monday.

The legislation, known as the GI Tuition Fairness Act, gained wide bipartisan support, passing by a 390-0 vote.

If a public school doesn’t offer in-state tuition and fees to veterans, it would no longer receive other GI Bill education payments. The post-9/11 GI Bill pays the in-state tuition rate for public colleges.

Members said that veterans, because of the nature of the service, sometimes have little control over where they end up living, making them unable to meet the state residency requirements needed to qualify for in-state tuition. To qualify under the legislation passed Monday, veterans will only have to show that they intend to become a resident.

“The men and women who serve this nation did not just defend citizens of their own home states but the citizens of all 50 states,” Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller said.

Twenty-two states offer “some form” of in-state tuition to veterans, the Florida Republican said.

A similar proposal is included in Sen. Bernie Sanders’s omnibus veterans’ legislation.

That bill, expected to cost approximately $30 billion, tackles a swath of veterans issues, including health care, education, employment, and—an issue on the minds of many members of Congress—restoring the $6 billion in pensions cut to working-age military retirees.

But it got some quick pushback from a Republican aide with the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, who noted that members prefer a piecemeal approach.