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Foster Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Extend Education Benefits for Military Families

Mar 13, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL) and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), introduced the bipartisan GI Education Benefits Fairness Act, H.R. 1718. This legislation would align definitions of an eligible child in the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense for the purposes of the education benefit transfer. Currently, veterans and service members receive education benefits that they can transfer to their children, but a discrepancy in the definitions across agencies has led to the denial of this benefit to military families. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

Under current law, the Department of Defense’s Title 10 includes wards and foster children in the definition of an eligible child while Title 38 in the Veterans Administration does not. This misalignment has led to a bureaucratic nightmare for some members of the armed services and their families. According to the Department of Defense, this discrepancy has led to cases where students who were originally approved for education benefits would have them revoked later and were notified mid-semester that they would have to repay tuition expenses. This legislation would correct this discrepancy and would prevent this situation from happening in the future.

“I am proud to once again introduce bipartisan legislation to make sure our service members and their families receive the full benefits they are promised,” Foster said. “These brave men and women risk their lives to protect our freedom and we owe them the full benefits they were promised. The GI Bill is a foundation of that promise and we need to rectify a loophole that is preventing military children from accessing the educational benefits their families have earned. I am grateful to Senator Durbin, Senator Duckworth, and Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers for their support of this important legislation.” 

“The Post-9/11 GI Bill gives service members the ability to transfer some or all of their unused benefits to family members, but for years there has been confusion as to whether foster children and legal wards are eligible,” said Senator Durbin.  “My bill today makes clear that women and men who have served our country should be able to share the benefits they earned with the children they consider their own. This small but common sense fix will help countless military families get the benefits they are due.”

“This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that all military children are able to access the educational benefits earned by their family members who served and sacrificed for our country,” Senator Duckworth said. “GI benefits help pay rent and tuition, buy books and put food on the table. I’m proud to be working with my colleagues to pass this bill and fulfill the promises we made to our servicemembers and their families.” 

Text of the legislation is available here.