Janet Cruz bill would help disabled veterans cover college tuition

Cruz' bill would cover the balance for disabled veterans receiving federal tuition benefits.

Tampa Democratic Sen. Janet Cruz filed a bill Monday that closes the gap between the cap on certain federal tuition programs for veterans and the cost to attend state universities.

SB 782 would apply to veterans who have “a service-connected total and permanent disability rating of 100 percent” for the purposes of compensation and retirement pay, as determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

If a veteran meets those conditions and is also receiving tuition benefits through the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, Cruz’s bill would have the state cover any portion of the tuition and fees not handled by the federal government.

It would apply to veterans attending any Florida College System or State University System institution. There is currently no House companion.

The bill would add to a slate of veteran and service member-friendly educational programs offered in Florida.

In 2014, the Legislature passed the “Florida GI Bill” to waive out-of-state tuition fees for honorably discharged veterans through the “Congressman C.W. Bill Young Tuition Waiver Program.”

The same bill also waives undergraduate tuition for state institutions for service members with a Purple Heart or certain other combat decorations.

The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act is a federal program that applies to anyone who served in the military after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It pays up to 100% of tuition and fees at public schools and provides a $1,000 stipend and a monthly housing allowance.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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