The Honorable Robert A. McDonald
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420
Dear Secretary McDonald:
On behalf of the nation’s governors, we urge you to use the authority provided in the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 (Choice Act) to grant waivers to states requesting additional time to comply with the law.
Section 702 of the Choice Act requires public institutions of higher learning to charge qualifying veterans and their dependents in-state tuition rates by July 1, 2015. Failure to meet this deadline will prevent veterans from using their educational benefits under federal GI Bill programs. With the statutory deadline quickly approaching, we ask that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) publish guidance for requesting a waiver as soon as possible.
Governors support efforts to provide service members and veterans with better access to the benefits and services they deserve. While a number of states are currently at or near full compliance, others will require additional time to amend state law or college and university policy. The Choice Act was signed into law in August 2014, leaving states with less than a year to meet the statutory deadline. Despite good faith efforts to comply, some states will be unable to enact legislation or approve new regulations in time to meet the July 1 deadline. Granting a waiver to these states will reassure veterans that their education and training pursuits will not be unnecessarily disrupted or delayed.
We appreciate your leadership and the extensive efforts of the VA’s Education Service to work with states to implement Section 702. We stand ready to work with you to facilitate state and territorial compliance, so that our nation’s veterans may continue to use their education benefits without interruption.
Cc: House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees