(NASHVILLE) — Republican lawmakers — led by House Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville) — have unanimously passed legislation that demonstrates their commitment to higher education for Tennessee’s veterans.
House Bill 433 assists veterans by determining how their military training can count as college credit at Tennessee’s colleges and universities. It also grants in-state tuition to anyone currently living in Tennessee who is using VA educational benefits, regardless of their official home of record. This change brings Tennessee into compliance with new provisions in the GI bill, ensuring that about 13,000 Tennessee service members, veterans, and their dependents continue to receive education benefits under the federal program.
“Our military veterans and their families have made great sacrifices in order to defend our freedoms,” said Representative Williams. “We need to do everything we can in order to help them pursue their educational goals and dreams when their service time comes to an end.”
House Bill 433 also updates the Tennessee’s Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Act which encourages enrollment of veterans and removes barriers known to impede their success in attaining higher education credentials. The legislation enhances the VETS Act and makes Tennessee the second state in the nation to develop a web-based dashboard to help prospective student veterans determine how their military training counts. Under the new program, a veteran or service member will be able to click on the specific military occupational specialty he or she possesses and instantly see what academic credit they qualify for at each of Tennessee’s public institutions, before they enroll. The easy-to-use system will help the state recruit and keep military service members in Tennessee.
The bill also calls on the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) to select representatives of various state colleges and universities by December 2018 to work collaboratively in adopting policies for Prior Learning Assessments (PLAs) for veterans. Currently, PLA credit can vary significantly from one institution to the next. The group will identify and develop uniform methods to assess and maximize academic credit for veterans based on the experience, education, and training obtained during their military service.
The full text of House Bill 433 can be accessed by visiting the Tennessee General Assembly website at: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/110/Bill/HB0433.pdf
Ryan Williams serves as the House Republican Caucus Chairman. He is also a member of the House Finance, Ways & Means Committee and Subcommittee, as well as the House Government Operations, House Health, and the House Calendar & Rules Committees. Williams lives in Cookeville and represents House District 42, which includes a portion of Putnam County. He can be reached by email at: [email protected] or by calling (615) 741-1875.