Virginia lawmakers agree to restore military tuition benefits

The Democratic majority leadership in the House and Senate has reached an agreement to restore the Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Program (VMSDEP) and related tuition waivers. 

Chairs Luke E. Torian and L. Louise Lucas announced Tuesday that they will introduce identical legislation to fully repeal the recent changes to VMSDEP.

The proposed legislation will also allocate an additional $90 million from the FY 2024 surplus to offset the costs of the program. This funding, combined with the amounts already appropriated in Chapter 2, will provide $65 million each year for the 2024-2026 biennium.

"House and Senate leadership previously agreed to a Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) study, and JLARC committed to the study on Monday," said L. Louise Lucas, chair of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee. "This study and the allocation of what will now be $65 million per year for the program provides me with the comfort that we will not place the burden of the escalating costs of the program on other students through their tuition charges. Making education affordable for all students is a priority for us all. The JLARC study and our select workgroup on VMSDEP will provide us with the answers we need to ensure this program will be sustainable long-term to serve veterans and their families."

Luke E. Torian, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, emphasized the importance of the agreement. "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. Both bodies have listened to our constituents and we look forward to working together in the interim on this and other issues."

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin took to X to respond to the legislators' announcement. 

"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," he wrote. 

The House and Senate have jointly agreed to reconvene at 2:00 p.m. on July 18 to consider the legislation.