LANSING — State Rep. Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights) introduced House Bill 6387 today to remove financial need as a condition for tuition assistance from the Police Officer’s and Fire Fighter’s Tuition Grant program for the survivors of a fallen police officer or firefighter.
“If we’re going to help the families of first responders who die in the line of duty, then that aid should be unconditional,” said Yanez. “This is a program that waves tuition that isn’t covered by other aid. It’s time to make this program work better for these families and let a spouse or child get the degrees they’re working hard to achieve.”
Yanez sponsored the legislation after hearing from spouses who had remarried and whose children were then denied the tuition aid. Yanez believes the program should use the same system the Veteran’s Survivor Tuition grant uses, which does not look at financial need. Currently it is a small community of individuals who would initially qualify for the aid. In 2013-14, the program made grants to 12 student survivors, while the veteran’s program made awards to 418 student survivors.
“We all know how costly higher education is today, and families of first responders struggle as much as any other hardworking family does to help their kids get an education so they have more opportunities to succeed,” said Yanez. “These families made the ultimate sacrifice when their police officer or firefighter didn’t come home from work one day; we should make sure they don’t give up a dream of a college education and a good job.”