BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó



                                                                      AB 27


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          Date of Hearing:  March 10, 2015


                       ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON VETERANS AFFAIRS


                                    Irwin, Chair


          AB  
                        27 (Chávez) - As Amended  March 4, 2015


          SUBJECT:  Public postsecondary education:  exemption from  
          nonresident tuition


          SUMMARY:  Requires the California State University (CSU), and  
          requests the University of California (UC) to exempt from  
          nonresident tuition a nonresident student who is using, or is  
          intending to use, GI Bill educational benefits while enrolled at  
          a CSU or UC.  This bill defines "GI Bill educational benefits"  
          to mean any educational benefit administered by the US  
          Department of Veterans Affairs pursuant to Title 38 of the  
          United States Code that is designed to help eligible veterans or  
          other eligible persons with a relationship to a veteran to cover  
          the costs associated with enrollment as a CSU or UC student.  It  
          contains an urgency clause.



          EXISTING LAW:  

          1)Establishes uniform residency requirements for the purposes of  
            determining the amount of fees to be paid by students  
            attending public institutions of higher education in  
            California and requires California Community College (CCC)  
            districts, California State University (CSU) and University of  
            California (UC) to charge a tuition fee to nonresident  
            students; and, provides for specified exceptions to residence  
            determination for current and former members of the Armed  
            Forces meeting specified requirements.








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          2)Requires the CCC, CSU, and requests UC, (the higher education  
            "segments") to update and adopt policies no later than July 1,  
            2015, regarding tuition rates for eligible veterans and their  
            eligible dependents to ensure conformity to, and compliance  
            with, the federal Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability  
            Act of 2014 ("Choice Act", Public Law 113-143) and the  
            requirements of California law.    

          3)Exempts specified California nonresidents from paying  
            nonresident tuition if they attended a California high school  
            for three or more years (or equivalent), graduated from a  
            California high school (or equivalent degree), registered or  
            attended an accredited California higher education institution  
            not before the fall of the 2001-02 academic year, and filed an  
            affidavit, if without lawful immigration status, stating that  
            the student has filed an application to legalize their  
            immigration status or will file such an application as soon as  
            eligible to do so.

          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown at this time.


          COMMENTS:  This bill is coming to the Veterans Affairs Committee  
          after first receiving a hearing in the Higher Education  
          Committee.  Rather than focus on the issues pertaining to the  
          Higher Education aspects of this bill, for those issues have  
          been expertly analyzed in the Higher Education analysis, this  
          analysis will narrow in focus to the Veterans Affairs aspects of  
          this bill.  


          On signing the GI Bill in 1944, then President Franklin  
          Roosevelt said:


            This bill, which I have signed today? gives servicemen and  
            women the opportunity of resuming their education or technical  
            training after discharge, or of taking a refresher or  
            retrainer course, not only without tuition charge up to $500  
            per school year, but with the right to receive a monthly  
            living allowance while pursuing their studies?








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            With the signing of this bill a well-rounded program of  
            special veterans' benefits is nearly completed. It gives  
            emphatic notice to the men and women in our armed forces that  
            the American people do not intend to let them down.


            ?This bill therefore and the former legislation provide the  
            special benefits which are due to the members of our armed  
            forces -- for they "have been compelled to make greater  
            economic sacrifice and every other kind of sacrifice than the  
            rest of us, and are entitled to definite action to help take  
            care of their special problems." While further study and  
            experience may suggest some changes and improvements, the  
            Congress is to be congratulated on the prompt action it has  
            taken. [Emphasis added.]


          These words ring true in 2015.  Not unlike in 1944 our country  
          has been in a protracted military conflict.  Many of the men and  
          women who have served in the armed forces interrupted their  
          civilian lives to serve and sacrifice for the country and are  
          now in transition back to civilian life. 


          Much has changed, however, since 1944.  We are for the most part  
          a nation of mobile people, most Americans own cars, and air and  
          rail travel is relatively accessible and affordable.  Air and  
          rail travel are well-developed and sophisticated, it is quite  
          possible to fly from Sacramento, California to Sydney, Australia  
          in less than 24 hours.  We travel, we move, and often our  
          families are spread across the country.  The kind of work and  
          jobs, indeed some entire large industries, are very different  
          today than they were back then.  And, reviewing the $500 tuition  
          benefit in the GI Bill of 1944, the price of things has  
          certainly changed.  For example, estimated tuition and fees at  
          the University of California system for 2015-16 are $14,500 for  
          residents and $38,024 for non-residents.


          The GI Bill of today would pay, in the example above, the UC  








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          resident amount, but not anything more than that for a  
          non-resident GI Bill student.  For many, this additional amount  
          is cost-prohibitive.  California has several state laws that  
          permit some non-resident GI Bill students to receive the  
          resident rate. The Choice Act takes the step of saying that, in  
          general, schools that wish to continue receiving any GI Bill  
          benefits must no longer charge any GI Bill student non-resident  
          tuition if that student enrolls within three years of discharge  
          from the armed forces.


          As stated by the Higher Education Committee analysis, "Arguably,  
          a segment could conform to ?[the Choice Act] through  
          discontinuing participation in the federal program.  Committee  
          staff understands, however, it is unlikely this approach would  
          be used to achieve compliance."   


          Purpose of this bill.  According to the Author, currently the  
          Education Code does not include a waiver to reduce tuition for  
          nonresidents who attend college using G.I. Bill education  
          benefits.  If the segments do not comply with the requirements  
          of the Choice Act, not only will they be barred from accepting  
          new students using G.I. Bill educational benefits, but current  
          students will lose their veterans tuition and housing  
          assistance.  

          According to the Committee on Higher Education:

            UC and CSU compliance.  UC indicates that it is prepared to  
            admit veterans and their dependents per the new federal law by  
            the July 1, 2015 Choice Act deadline. UC reports that it is on  
            track to identify and document eligibility for new exemptions;  
            and has been fielding inquiries from non-resident  
            undergraduate applicants who have any indication of a link to  
            the military and is reviewing applicants for eligibility under  
            the terms of the federal law.  UC has also updated its webpage  
            to reflect the new eligibility for veterans under the Choice  
            Act.  Committee staff understands that CSU intends to comply  
            with the requirements of the Choice Act.  However, CSU has not  
            yet formally outlined how the segment plans to achieve  
            compliance.  








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          From the veterans affairs perspective, regardless of whether  
          there is disagreement or clarity about the state of the existing  
          state law and whether this bill is legally essential for the CSU  
          and UC to comply, the scenario contemplated by the author should  
          be avoided.  Unless we as a state intend to maintain our current  
          cost structure at the consequence of loss of GI Bill benefits  
          for current and future students, this bill does no harm and  
          resolves any risk that the CSU and UC might want to comply but  
          lack the legal authority under California law to do so.

          Related legislation.  AB 13 (Chávez) requires a CCC to exempt  
          from nonresident tuition a nonresident student who is using, or  
          is intending to use, GI Bill educational benefits while enrolled  
          at a CCC and provides that these students may be reported as  
          full-time equivalent students for purposes of state  
          apportionment.  AB 13 is pending before the Assembly Higher  
          Education Committee.  

          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:


          Support


          American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees,  
          AFL-CIO
          Associated Students of Humboldt State University 


          Opposition


          None on File. 


          Analysis Prepared  
          by:              John Spangler / V.A. / (916) 319-3550












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