Arkansas Legislation to Include Step-Children as "Dependents"

Legislation to include step-children under the umbrella of “dependent” has been introduced for the 2023 Arkansas Legislative Session, ABC7 reported. This would affect whether the stepchildren of certain veterans can get prioritized academic financial aid.Sen. Jane EnglishSen. Jane English

Per current law, dependents of veterans who are disabled, prisoners of war, or missing, or killed in action are eligible for prioritized academic financial aid. And the definition of dependent includes biological and adopted children, but not step-children - many of whom are not officially adopted by stepparents.

SB 3 – filed by Higher Education Subcommittee chair, Sen. Jane English, aims to close that gap.

"A lady that called me - she was in the military, her husband was not in the military," English said. "He had a child that they were supporting and was a dependent, was on their income tax, everything like that - but had not been adopted by them. So, the child would not qualify. There's really not a problem with anybody getting a scholarship right now - we got plenty of money - but if there were a problem, that child would not qualify."

The Regular Session of the 94th General Assembly convenes on Jan. 9, and English expects the bill to pass easily.