WASHINGTON, DC: Today, Congresswoman Jen Kiggans (VA-02) announced that the Filipino Education Fairness Act of 2023 passed the House as part of H.R. 1669, the VET-TEC Authorization Act of 2023. Kiggans’ bill would amend title 38 of the United States Code to allow veterans and their families to use the full breadth of their GI Bill benefits to pay for education in the Republic of the Philippines.
“We are blessed to have a large and diverse Filipino population in Southeast Virginia, many of whom have honorably served our country,” said Congresswoman Kiggans. “It is wrong to prevent them from receiving their GI Bill benefits simply because they chose to seek educational opportunities in the Philippines. I was proud to introduce legislation to ensure all veterans can receive the education benefits they earned and am honored to see it passed out of the House. As a veteran I will always fight to improve the lives of our nation’s heroes!”
“The VFW supports the Filipino Education Fairness Act to provide parity for beneficiaries of the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance program (Chapter 35) at institutions in the Philippines. We believe VA beneficiaries should have parity in as many cases as practical. Specifically, Chapter 35 recipients utilizing this benefit in the Philippines are provided only fifty percent of the rate compared to beneficiaries in the United States. This is not even equitable with other beneficiaries who utilize this program outside the continental United States. Recipients in other countries around the world receive the same benefit as everyone else. The inequitable delivery of this benefit to recipients in the Philippines should be corrected,” said Pat Murray, VFW National Legislative Service Director.
Under current law (subsection (d) of 38 U.S. Code § 3532), the educational allowance for eligible individuals pursing programs of education at institutions in the Republic of the Philippines is paid at a rate of $0.50 for every dollar of allowance that would be awarded in the United States. By striking subsection (d), the Filipino Education Fairness Act ensures that veterans and other eligible individuals attending educational institutions in the Philippines receive the full amount of educational assistance that they qualify for under the G.I. Bill. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that roughly 500 beneficiaries each year would receive an additional $4,200.
Today, about 4.1 million Filipino Americans make up the second-largest Asian American ethnic group in the United States. Hampton Roads is home to a Filipino population of nearly 30,000 people.
The full text of the bill is available here.