Virginia lawmakers reach deal over military tuition benefits

The deal restores the benefits and eligibility requirements that military families were promised

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Lawmakers in Virginia have reached a deal on the battle over tuition benefits to military families.

For nearly two months, Gold Star and severely disabled veteran families have panicked about whether Virginia would cover the cost of their college tuition, a benefit they were promised but that was suddenly taken away during the state budget process.

“Making education affordable to all students is a priority for us all,” state Sen. Louise Lucas, chair of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, said in a statement.

The deal would fully restore the benefits and eligibility requirements that military families were promised. It also adds nearly $100 million in state surplus money to help fund the program and calls for a nonpartisan study to help understand how to sustain the program long-term.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin spoke live on News4 Today about the need for restoration of a benefit for military families. News4 asked him about Donald Trump’s recent remark that Trump is considering Youngkin as a potential running mate for vice president.

“This agreement ensures that there is a full repeal of the changes adopted in May to the VMSDEP and related tuition waivers and provides financial certainty for military families attending college as I had hoped for,” Del. Luke Torian, who is also the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement. “Both bodies have listened to our constituents and we look forward to working together in the interim on this and other issues.”

Earlier this year, Virginia's bipartisan budget bill changed the program's eligibility requirements, rendering it practically useless and leaving families wondering how they would pay for college. The Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program paid college tuition for the spouses and children of service members either killed or left severely disabled as a result of their service.

The situation had been a mess for nearly two months and every attempt to clean it up had failed.

Lawmakers said the program's cost is skyrocketing, and colleges have to raise tuition costs for other students to pay for the program.

During the budget process, Gov. Glenn Youngkin proposed cutting tens of millions of dollars to support the program, but the budget altered the program's eligibility requirements drastically.

Upon the deal passing, Youngkin said in a post on X: “A full, clean repeal with additional financial support for the VMSDEP program, unencumbered by any other provisions, is great news for our military heroes, first responders, and their families.”

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