Va. House speaker confirms special session on military tuition program

Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates Don Scott said state lawmakers will return to Richmond later this month to address recent changes to a state program that covers the cost of higher education for some military families.

Discussion will include the Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program, which provides tuition waivers and an annual stipend to spouses and children of veterans who have been killed, missing, captured, or left at least 90% permanently disabled as a result of military service. violence. service or combat. But during this year’s budget process, the program was scaled back to rein in the rising tuition waiver costs that universities had to bear.

Scott, D-Portsmouth, said he submitted the request to the clerk Wednesday to send a note to lawmakers about reconvening and determining how to handle the program. He told The Virginian-Pilot on Thursday that the session is scheduled for the last week of June, and he expects it won’t take more than half a day to get everything in order.

Scott said it is an issue that is important to “get it right” and ensure the program is sustainable for those who benefit from it.

“Hopefully, if we do this, people will understand that the way the program is currently designed is not sustainable. And that we need to make some changes,” Scott said. “But it has to be done in a thoughtful, careful and deliberate way, and that’s what I want to do.”

While there have been some calls for the General Assembly to reconvene to take up skill gaming legislation, Scott said the military program is the only one slated for formal discussion during the convened session.

The call for a special session comes after public outcry over changes made to the tuition waiver program, which have scaled back its applicability. Under the changes passed in the state budget, applicants would have to be Virginia residents, the waiver could only be used for bachelor’s degrees, and eligible students would first have to apply for and use other eligible federal and state financial aid.

Lawmakers also allocated $40 million in state money to help cover the program’s costs over two years. This is the first time that funding has been allocated to offset institutions’ loss of revenue due to the tuition waiver.

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