Jeffries introduces student aid bill for families of military heroes

In advance of the Memorial Day holiday, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), along with U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) introduced the Fry Scholarship Enhancement Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation designed to deliver expanded student aid assistance to the surviving spouses and children of service members who died in the line of duty.

Jeffries introduced the bill in the House of Representatives on Thursday, and Sens. Brown and Tillis introduce a companion bill in the Senate on Friday.

The Brooklyn congressman said the bill would extend Yellow Ribbon G.I. Education Enhancement Program benefits to the child or spouse of service members who die in the line of duty while deployed.

The Yellow Ribbon Program is an educational assistance provision of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, which allows institutions of higher learning to enter into agreements with the Department of Veterans Affairs to match a certain amount of the tuition and fees not covered by the basic Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

Currently, the Yellow Ribbon program is available to veterans utilizing Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits and the dependents to whom a service member transferred benefits, Jeffries noted.

However, he said the program excludes Fry Scholarship recipients, who are specifically dependents of service members who die in the line of duty.

“The Fry Scholarship Enhancement Act would correct this imbalance in the current law and provide important educational support for the family members of our brave heroes who make the ultimate sacrifice,” Jeffries said.

“American soldiers lay their lives on the line each and every day to keep this nation safe,” he added. “Helping their spouses and children pay for college is the very least we can do to show our appreciation for their bravery and unyielding courage.

“The families impacted by this bill have a loved one who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” Jeffries continued. “We must continue to assist them in every way possible.”

The bill has the full support of the National Military Family Association, Military Child Education Coalition, American Gold Star Mothers, Inc., Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors and the Gold Star Wives, Jeffries said.