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THE VFW FIGHTS FOR VETERANS' IN-STATE TUITION

Eliminating residency requirements that hurt student-veterans.

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VFW Deputy Legislative Director Ryan Gallucci testified on behalf of
bills designed to protect student-veterans.

For the last few months, the VFW has been out in force on Capitol Hill calling for equitable tuition for student-veterans attending public schools, testifying before both the House and Senate on this hot-button issue that affects more than 40,000 veterans on college campuses around the country.
 
In 2008, the Post-9/11 GI Bill was passed with the intention of allowing Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans to go to college for free at the public school of their choice. In its current form, veterans are entitled to receive up to the full cost of in-state tuition and fees to attend a public college or university. Unfortunately, Student Veterans of America reports that four out of five student-veterans attending public schools cannot attend at the in-state rate because their military service prevents them from satisfying strict state residency requirements for college tuition purposes.
 
To the VFW, the best solution is to offer in-state tuition to GI Bill-eligible veterans at public schools regardless of residency status. To accomplish this, the VFW has put its full support behind the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013, which is H.R. 357 in the House and S. 257 in the Senate. Learn more about the VFW’s most recent testimony in support of the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013.
 
The VFW has seen recent glaring examples of this issue in Virginia and North Carolina, where school systems sought to deny in-state tuition to military veterans who had made a concerted effort to establish residency in those states, but failed to meet strict interpretations of in-state residency requirements. The VFW believes that the North Carolina incident, specifically, was not a malicious act on the part of the higher education system, but rather a sad consequence of an archaic policy that left no legal wiggle room for administrators to make a sensible exception.
 
Critics have said that legislation extending in-state tuition for veterans would set a dangerous precedent for other non-resident students utilizing federal aid programs. The VFW vehemently disagrees with this notion. Military service members and military veterans are the only cohort of Americans who cannot reasonably satisfy residency requirements for in-state tuition because of circumstances beyond their control. Recognizing these unique circumstances, service members are already offered this reasonable accommodation when using military Tuition Assistance at public schools through the Higher Education Authorization Act. However, once a service member leaves the military, this protection goes away.
 
Eleven states already offer in-state tuition to veterans, eight states offer conditional waivers for veterans in certain circumstances, and 16 states have legislation pending. Of the states that have passed in-state tuition initiatives for veterans, both Republican and Democrat state leaders have all agreed that the financial benefits for the state far outweigh the illusory financial burdens that some in higher education believe would be detrimental to institutional budgetsparticularly since graduates of public colleges and universities traditionally pursue careers close to their alma mater.
 
The GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013 ensures that public colleges and universities offer in-state tuition to all veterans or forfeit their eligibility to participate in GI Bill programs. The VFW believes all public schools must offer a reasonably-priced education to incoming student-veterans who have no realistic way to satisfy residency requirements because of prior military commitments, which is why our advocates will be out in force over the next few months to build support for the bill.
 
Voice your support for the House version of the bill.
 
Voice your support for the Senate version of the bill.
 
For updates, check the VFW's Capitol Hill blog regularly.

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