Senate Bill Could Reduce Education Benefits

Texas veterans are currently battling a Senate bill that would cut down their higher education benefits granted under the Hazlewood Act. Since 1923, qualified veterans have had access to educational benefits and in 2009, were able to pass unused credit hours to their children. The “legacy provision” in 2009 has since then resulted in lost revenue for state schools.

Army veteran Rick Schumacher served in Iraq from 2003 to 2004 and has relied on the legacy provision of the Hazlewood Act to help his children go to college.

“It’s been a real, big burden lifted to have that in my back pocket for them,” claimed Schumacher. “To lose it, is pretty substantial to me.”

If Senate Bill 1735 passes, that tuition assistance could be in jeopardy.

The bill, which was proposed by Sen. Brian Birdwell, would require personnel to serve for at least six years to be eligible to pass their unused hours to their children. A 15-year time limit on use of the exemption from the veteran’s end of time in service would also be implemented. In addition, the number of hours that can be passed to children will be reduced from 120 to 60 and limits the use of the Hazlewood exemption undergrad program for legacies. Under Senate Bill 1735, veterans and legacies would have to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Schumacher said, “honestly I’m going to have to reevaluate what I can do for my kids and their education. Right now I have a 529 savings account for both of them, but the amount I’m able to put in at this time is fairly little.”

Sen. Birdwell, who is also a veteran, claims the program is in need of reform. Since the legacy provision was added, Birdwell says that lost revenue for universities has increased from $25 million in 2009 to $169 million in 2014. He says if the trend continues, that number could increase to $379 million by 2019. According to KXAN, “the measure passed a Senate committee in a 5 to 1 vote.”

Schumacher voiced his frustration, “I think it breeds distrust among the veteran community when you back out of something you pretty much just signed in. Does a disservice to all of us.”

Sen. Birdwell stated that any student currently receiving Hazlewood benefits as the spouse or dependent of a service member killed in action, missing in action, or 100 percent disabled due to a service-related injury “will continue to receive those benefits as they now exist.”

The Archuleta Law Firm handles injury, death, and veterans medical malpractice claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act. We handle claims in all 50 States and Worldwide. Our focus is helping Veterans, and the families of Veterans and Military Service Members in their claims involving Veterans (VA) Hospitals, Doctors and Clinics and Military Hospitals, Doctors and Clinics. We handle claims involving the Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Air Force.

Source: KXAN