Measure In Tallahassee Would Help Veterans Meet College Costs Under G.I. Bill

Law Firm Newswire



Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) December 19, 2013 – A bill to qualify vets for in-state college tuition has a better shot at success than its predecessor.

The G.I. Bill of 2009 was crafted to help military veterans meet the costs of a college education, a piece of legislation that has become especially relevant as Iraq War veterans and increasing numbers of Afghanistan War veterans have returned home. In addition, 20 states have enacted laws to waive in-state residency requirements for college tuition, but Florida has not been one of them. However, if legislation moving through Tallahassee passes, the Sunshine State could soon join that group.

In the 20 states that have already adopted a residency-blind status for veterans on college costs, veterans have neither faced the higher costs of out-of-state tuition, nor have they been required to postpone their academic registration until they establish residency. Such a homogeneous classification method has streamlined and quickened the process of obtaining benefits from the G.I. Bill.

With a 17 percent increase in the number of veterans availing themselves of their G.I. Bill benefits since the bill’s passage four years ago, support for amending in-state residency requirements has gained momentum. Nine states are now revisiting their residency laws.

In Florida’s case, demography has made for a compelling case to lift residency requirements for veterans. As the latest estimated U.S. Census Bureau figures from 2012 demonstrate, the Sunshine State continues to be a major magnet for out-of-state migrants. Indeed, even though Florida still ranks third in population behind the two other Sun Belt giants, California and Texas, more people moved to Florida in 2012 from other states — 537,148 — than to any other state.

Currently, all increases in inclusive college residency policies for veterans are taking place at the state level. The Tuition Fairness Act of 2013, which would mandate in-state tuition rates for veterans at a national level, has not even been scheduled for a vote on Capitol Hill.

Even in Florida, the movement on in-state tuition for veterans has faced setbacks. A similar measure to the one now before the Legislature was defeated last year, but that bill included controversial provisions for undocumented immigrants which are no longer included.

If the sentiments of some of the current bill’s backers are any indicator, relief for veterans in Florida could be a reality soon.

“They have put … their education and their career on hold to defend our freedom,” said District 69 Representative Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, who introduced the bill in September. “Why should we make them wait 12 months until they can afford it?”

Learn more at David W. Magann, P.A. Main Office: 156 West Robertson Street Brandon, FL 33511 Call: (813) 657-9175 Tampa Office: 18715 N Dale Mabry Hwy Lutz, FL 33548