Reps. Luke Messer, an Indiana Republican whose district includes Jefferson County, and Rick Larsen, a Democrat from Washington state, want to reduce the financial burden on veterans pursuing higher education by making application fees eligible under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

The proposal merits consideration as growing number of veterans pursue educational opportunities after leaving active service.

Currently, while the Post 9/11 GI Bill provides important educational benefits, the cost of applications to colleges, graduate schools, and technical and vocational schools – which can run into the hundreds of dollars – are not covered.

 Messer and Larsen’s bipartisan Reducing Barriers for Veterans Education Act of 2017 would allow the Post 9/11 GI Bill to cover up to $750 of applications to colleges, universities, graduate schools, as well as technical and vocational schools. 

 “College application fees can quickly add up and pose an unexpected financial barrier to education,” Messer said. “Our goal is to give veterans as much flexibility and as many options as possible to help them transition from serving our country to earning a degree. This is one small way to do that.”

 According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, college application costs average close to $40, with some running as high as $90. Graduate school applications can be even more expensive, costing as much as $275.

 “Veterans should not miss out on higher education because of the cost of application fees,” said Larsen, a senior member on the House Armed Services Committee. “This bill will ensure application fees do not prevent veterans from taking full advantage of educational opportunities made possible by the Post 9/11 GI Bill.” 

 The Post 9/11 GI Bill already covers the fees for professional certification, licensing and aptitude tests, like the ACT, LSAT, etc.  H.R. 1206 would add college application fees to the list of coverage options. 

This bill deserves bipartisan support.