Earlier this month it was announced that one million veterans have now received tuition benefits under the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. This has amounted to more than $30 million being paid out in tuition for veterans and other education-related payments since the program began in 2009. The Bill pays 100% of secondary education costs for honorably discharged veterans that served at least 36 months. While this is great, it generally only covers in-state tuition costs. There are 43 states that require out-of-state veterans to pick up the difference.
In-State Residency to Reduce College Tuition for Veterans in Florida
In Florida, for example, in 2012 there were 2,200 non-resident veteran students enrolled in state universities and colleges. The Florida Department of Veterans Affairs said those students were forced to pay as much as three times what in-state residents pay. The average two-semester undergraduate for residents was $6,000 while it was more than $20,500 for non-residents. This is problematic for veterans who have been moving around a lot because they might not have the opportunity to live in a state for a year prior to enrollment to establish in-state residency. A spokesperson for the Florida DVA said that it wants to push for legislation so that veterans do not have to wait a year to get in-state tuition. State Rep. Kathleen Peters said: “When someone comes back from service for the citizens of this country, we should not make them wait to go to school and get on with their career.”
Some of the State’s largest schools, including Florida State University, the University of Florida and the University of South Florida are all in favor of removing the residency requirement, even though they would continue to lose about $8 million. Generally those that oppose the legislation are so because of a concern over a strain on the State’s education budget. However, it is quickly pointed out that other non-residents, such as full scholarship athletes, have the full tuition waived. Though colleges would be giving up potential revenue by waiving the out-of-state fees, one of the forgotten benefits to the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill is the monthly stipend. Each veteran receives $1,600 each month, which means money poured into the local economy.
Veterans: Take a Second Look at the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill
First of all, if you are a veteran, thank you for your service. Secondly, if you are eligible and have yet to take advantage of the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, please give it another look. Finally, regardless of where you live, if you have any interest in going to school in Florida, closely monitor the situation to see if the residency requirement is changed. If so, Florida would be just the eighth state to waive the requirement. Hopefully more will follow suit. There should be no restrictions on being able to better yourself.