Sen. Moran’s Bill to Expand Education Benefits for Surviving Family Members Signed into Law
Nov 30 2021: (L_R)
Sen. Moran and Sen. Tester join Kelly McHugh,
daughter of Colonel John McHugh, at thebill signing ceremony in Washington, D.C.
WASHINGTON – Today, the Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fairness for Survivors Act– legislation introducedby U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), ranking memberand chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee – was signed into law. Thislaw expands in-state tuition eligibility for the families of certain servicememberswho died while on active duty and veterans who die from service-connecteddisabilities.
“Today we were able to deliver more certainty to families who lose a loved one dueto their military service,” said Ranking Member Moran. “Military service is familyservice, and this country has made a commitment to care for the families of fallenservicemembers. This sensible law will allow the surviving families of fallenservicemembers to receive the education benets their family earned through theirservice to this nation and greatly lessen the nancial burden on their dependents, toattend school.”
“Today marks a huge step forward for surviving family members in Montana andacross the country who will now have expanded access to affordable, in-state tuitionin return for their sacrices,” said Chairman Tester. “This new law is a testament towhat Congress can accomplish when we row in the same direction, and I’m proud tohave worked alongside Ranking Member Moran and veterans’ advocates to deliverthis critical support to the families of our nation’s fallen heroes.”
“We can’t thank Senators Moran and Tester enough for their work in getting this billpassed,” said Kelly McHugh, daughter of Colonel John M. McHugh. “Education wasimportant to our father, so having his name attached to a bill that will assist otherGold Star families as they pursue their college educations is a huge honor.”
"TAPS is grateful for the passage of the Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fairness forSurvivors Act, which passed the Senate in June and was signed into law thismorning,” said Bonnie Carroll, TAPS President and Founder. “The law will ensurethat the over 150,000 Chapter 35 recipients will be able to afford to attend thecollege of their choice, by guaranteeing in-state tuition for all surviving spouses andchildren."
The Dependents Education Assistance (DEA) program provides VA educationbenets, including tuition, housing and book stipends, to the children or spouse of aservicemember who is permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connecteddisability, died while on active duty prior to 9/11, or dies as a result of a service-connected disability.
While any veteran, servicemember or survivor qualifying for the Fry Scholarship, orany dependent using transferred entitlement under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, is eligiblefor in-state tuition at any state school in the country, DEA recipients are currentlyexcluded by law from receiving the same in-state tuition benet.
The Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fairness for Survivors Act requires public collegesand universities that receive GI Bill benets to provide in-state tuition rates forstudents using DEA. Named after U.S. Army Colonel John McHugh, this legislationhelps reduce the out-of-pocket education costs for surviving spouses and children.
U.S. Army Colonel John McHugh was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2010 while heand his family were stationed at Fort Leavenworth. His daughter was attendingKansas State University at the time of his death. While children whose parent diedbefore August 1, 2011 have access to both the Fry Scholarship and DEA, this lawmakes certain families, like Colonel McHugh’s family, are eligible to receive the in-state tuition rate when using DEA benets.