Spanberger, Fitzpatrick Fighting to Omit VA Disability Compensation from Student Aid Consideration

November 11, 2020 by Reece Nations
Rep.-elect Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., walks to member-elect briefings on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON – Reps. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., jointly introduced legislation Wednesday that would exclude Veterans Affairs Disability Compensation from the list of benefits that have to be reported in a student’s application for Federal Student Aid. 

Under current law, VA disability compensation must be included when calculating a FAFSA applicant’s Estimated Family Contribution, according to a joint press release. The act, entitled the “Honor Our Nation’s Oath to Remember Our Veterans’ Sacrifice Act,” would amend portions of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to exclude veteran benefits like VA disability compensation from the benefits reported in a student’s FAFSA. 

“We need to be doing everything we can to help our veterans,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “Our disabled veterans put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms, and deserve full access to educational opportunities when they return home.” 

Fitzpatrick’s statement continued, “Our bipartisan HONOR Our Veterans’ Sacrifice Act will amend existing law to ensure that VA Disability Compensation is not factored in to [sic] FAFSA allocation, to help our veterans receive as much tuition assistance as they are eligible for. We should be making it easier for our veterans to get an education after serving, not harder.” 

In order to submit a FAFSA, applicants must estimate their EFC, or estimated family contribution, and deduct it from their estimated cost of attendance, according to studentaid.gov. EFC is an “index number” utilized by an institution’s financial aid staff to determine how much financial aid one would qualify for if they were to attend. 

Notably, the bill’s introduction in the House coincides with this year’s Veterans Day holiday.

“Our nation’s veterans and their families deserve the strongest possible benefits we can provide — and current FAFSA rules unfairly put these families at a financial disadvantage,” Spanberger said in a statement. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill to make a commonsense change to FAFSA forms that will result in increased fairness for those who answered the call, fought to protect their fellow Americans, and kept our nation safe.”  

Her statement continued, “I’d like to thank Congressman Fitzpatrick for his shared commitment to those who put on the uniform, and I look forward to finding additional ways to make sure no individual is unjustly penalized for their selfless service to our country.” 

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