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Grassroots effort prompts Governor’s Task Force, Special Legislative Session on education benefits for LODD survivors

VMSDEP Friends highlights urgent need to protect education benefits for survivors of fallen veterans, LEOs and first responders in Virginia

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By Police1 Staff

A grass roots organization, VMSDEP Friends, has successfully brought statewide attention to recent legislative changes impacting education benefits for survivors of veterans, law enforcement officers, and first responders in Virginia.

The group’s efforts have led to the Governor establishing a task force set to begin on Monday, June 10, and the general legislature agreeing to a Special Session later this month to reconsider the issue.

The legislative changes in question, detailed in SB/HB6001 and effective as of May 13, altered the Survivor Tuition and Fee Waiver Programs from earned benefits to needs-based entitlements. Previously, spouses and children (up to age 25) of veterans, Gold Star families and certain public servants who died in the line of duty received full tuition and fee waivers at state colleges. Under the new law, families must now file a FAFSA, apply for other grants, and use their estimated family contribution before the waiver is applied, potentially disqualifying many families.

While some families had until May 15 to enroll in their programs to be “grandfathered in,” notification was only provided on May 13, meaning many veteran and Gold Star families were unable to meet the deadline. Last night, it was discovered that the change also impacts law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMS, corrections officers, campus police, special forest wardens, the Virginia National Guard and Virginia ABC employee families, none of whom received prior warning.

In response, VMSDEP Friends issued a statement emphasizing the need to protect these earned benefits. The organization thanked legislative partners and media members for their support and stressed the importance of including all affected groups in the upcoming discussions. They called for continued support and advocacy to ensure that the families of Virginia’s local heroes are not left behind.

As the task force convenes on June 10 and the Special Session approaches on June 28, VMSDEP Friends remains committed to advocating for the preservation of these crucial education benefits for survivors across the Commonwealth. For more information, visit https://vmsdepfriends.org/.

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