While many young people join the military for help funding college, many returning veterans still face economic pressure when they return home—a fact that several states are trying to change.
State legislatures in both Washington and Florida passed bills in early April that would award veterans in-state tuition without any requirement for residency.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill covers veterans’ tuition up to the highest in-state rate of the state’s public institutions. If veterans want to attend an out of state institution, veterans must pay the difference between the in-state rate and the out of state fee out of pocket, an expense these new laws address.
“I was an Army brat, so I didn’t really have a hometown,” says Ted Alger, a senior interdisciplinary arts and sciences major at the University of Washington-Tacoma and a 20-year Army veteran. “When I started looking at schools … I started running up against all these residency requirements, which forced me to live in Washington for a year before I got in-state tuition. So this law would’ve really helped me.”
Earning residency often takes living in a state for more than a year, which could force veterans to get a part-time job to support themselves. Accordingly, the bill ensures that returning service members don’t get locked into a job that deters them from attending school.
“If you don’t start right away, you might not ever go,” Alger says. “It’s just huge that residency isn’t required any more.”
As the size of the military continues to shrink with the de-escalation of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, lawmakers wanted to be sure that their states would be welcoming to returning veterans.
“If you’re getting out of the military, maybe because it’s shrinking or you don’t see a future in it, now you can come to Florida,” says Florida Rep. Jimmie Smith (R), a 20-year Army veteran. “We wanted to make sure we had our arms open to the young, motivated leaders of the future.”
Source: USA Today | Alex Koma, VIRGINIA TECH