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Kaine, Tester, Cortez Masto Applaud Passage of Bill to Protect Federal Student Aid for Gold Star Families

Legislation Would Expand Pell Grant Program to Gold Star Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. —U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and Armed Services Committee, as well as Senators Jon Tester and Catherine Cortez Masto, applauded Senate passage of their Protecting Our Gold Star Families’ Education Act, which would expand the Pell Grant program to include the children and dependents of those killed in action in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and now heads to the House of Representatives for a vote.

“Every day, Virginia’s servicemembers and their families sacrifice so much to keep us safe,” said Senator Kaine. “We owe it to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to look after their children and help them access higher education.”

“Gold Star families in Montana and across the country endure the unimaginable, and it’s our duty to make sure their education doesn’t come with a high price tag,” said Tester, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Senate passage of our bill means we’re one step away from expanding affordable education for military survivors, and I urge my House colleagues to join us in quickly advancing this legislation to provide them with this earned support.”

“The sacrifices families of those tragically killed in the line of duty have made for our nation are immeasurable, and this legislation ensures that their children have access to quality education,” Senator Cortez Masto said. “By making college affordable, we are taking care of the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.”

The Protecting our Gold Star Families’ Education Act was re-introduced in December 2021. Currently, students whose parents died as a result of military service in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11 are eligible to receive federal student aid for postsecondary education that is equivalent to the maximum Pell Grant award through the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. However, as a result of sequestration, the U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to institutions requiring them to reduce the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant awards by 5.7 percent (or $370 per recipient) for the 2021-22 award year. The Protect our Gold Star Families’ Education Act would move the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant to the Pell Grant program – which is exempted from the effects of sequester – to stabilize the funding source for these awards and ensure Gold Star families have access to the maximum the Pell grant funding available. 

The Protecting our Gold Star Families’ Education Act would:

  • Ensure that all children of veterans who died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11 will receive financial support by aligning eligibility requirements between the Departments of Education and Veterans Affairs.
  • Ensure Gold Star dependents are awarded the maximum Pell Grant for that award year.

The bill is supported by Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) and the Student Veterans of America.

For the full bill text, click here.