- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 5, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Texas Senate has approved slashing higher education benefits for veterans who are given free tuition for military service.

Republican state Sen. Brian Birdwell said Tuesday that the Hazlewood Act had become financially unsustainable without reforms. Costs for the program climbed nearly six-fold over the past four years and topped $169 million in 2014.

More dependents have begun receiving free tuition under Hazlewood than veterans.

The new guidelines would exclude veterans who haven’t been Texas residents for eight years. Veterans or their children would also now be required to use the benefit within 15 years of leaving military service.

The Senate passed the bill 24-7. Critics say the cuts send a signal that lawmakers are reneging on promises made to veterans.

The changes have yet to clear the House.

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