Veterans may soon get in-state tuition regardless of residency.
For many college students, exorbitant out-of-state tuition is one of the biggest barriers to getting an affordable education. A report from The College Board shows that during the 2011-2012 academic year, average in-state tuition and fees at public schools was $8,244. The average out-of-state tuition and fees at the same schools was $20,770. The difference is more than significant; it’s immense.
Veterans More Vulnerable to Out-of-State Costs
The additional cost of an out-of-state education can affect veterans more often than the general population. Those who serve in the military frequently move while on active duty. As a result, they often end up settling down in a state where they don’t have residency. And without residency, they usually have to pay out-of-state tuition.
Additionally, the GI Bill only pays for college costs up to the rate of in-state tuition, leaving veterans responsible for any amount beyond that. The Yellow Ribbon Program (YRP) may help cover the difference, but not all schools are YRP participants. And those that are may not participate to the level of covering the entire difference, or they may have a limited number of slots in the program.
These factors can make veterans particularly vulnerable to the high cost of out-of-state tuition. But the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013 is looking to change that.
Broad Support for H.R. 357
The GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013, also known as H.R. 357, seeks to require all state-supported schools to give veterans in-state tuition rates regardless of where they reside. It is bipartisan legislation introduced by members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs: Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) and Ranking Member Mike Michaud (D-ME).
“The men and women who served this nation did not just defend the citizens of their home states, but the citizens of all 50 states. As such, the educational benefits they receive from the taxpayers should reflect that,” said Miller in a press release. “By offering in-state tuition, servicemembers can attend an institution of higher learning that meets their specific needs without worrying about higher costs which non-residents often must pay.”
H.R. 357 also has the support of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The same press release quoted VFW Executive Director Bob Wallace, who said, “Over the last couple of years, the VFW has heard from countless veterans driven into more expensive college programs because public schools offered no flexibility in residency requirements, prohibiting veterans from attending at the in-state rate.
"The VFW is proud to see that Chairman Miller and Ranking Member Michaud have already taken a bold stance to ensure student-veterans attending public schools receive a reasonably-priced education at the public school of their choice, as we intended when we passed the Post-9/11 GI Bill.”
Significant Savings and More Options for Veterans
If the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013 becomes law, it will help veterans save money and also give them more options. The savings are obvious; an average tuition of $8,244 instead of $20,770 is a huge difference. But there are thousands of veterans who can’t afford the extra $12,000 a year under any circumstances. For them, the tuition difference simply places out-of-state schools permanently off-limits. H.R. 357 will allow them to attend schools and programs that would otherwise have been impossible, greatly increasing their access to the type of education they need to find lasting success in the civilian world.