University officials are starting to weigh the effects of a new federal effort to broaden educational opportunities for the 1.5 million veterans who will be discharged in the next few years.
The provision, which will take effect in July and is part of the $16 billion Veterans Affairs reform package, requires colleges and universities getting federal money through the G.I. Bill to offer in-state tuition to all qualified veterans, including those who have not established residency in the state. The feds will continue to foot the bill.
Currently for out-of-state veterans, the VA pays only a portion of the costs above the in-state rate.
With the new provision, a qualified veteran discharged in California could attend the aviation program at the University of Central Missouri at the in-state rate and save more than $7,000 in tuition and fees. Those benefits are still transferable to a vet’s spouse or dependent.
Out-of-state tuition and fees are often double the in-state cost, or more.
“The whole meaning behind this new law is that veterans fought for the entire United States of America, not just the state they came from,” said Carol Fleisher, director of the MU Veterans Center at the University of Missouri in Columbia. “They should get in-state tuition in every state.”
Most states, with varying conditions, already give veterans in-state tuition. Missouri passed such a law last year. But Kansas lawmakers rejected an in-state tuition measure a year ago, said Andy Tompkins, president and CEO of the Board of Regents.
At the University of Missouri, out-of-state tuition and required fees for a full-time undergraduate are $24,460 this year. For an in-state undergraduate, it’s $9,433. That means a difference of more than $15,000 a year in revenue from one student.
According to the MU Veterans Center, about 680 veterans and dependents are enrolled at MU. Not all use their education benefits, though.
The new law could cost the University of Missouri-Kansas City $245,000 to $325,000 a year in revenue, said Eric Grospitch, dean of students.
On the other hand, it could make UMKC more attractive to out-of-state students. UMKC intends to recruit more veterans to its campus, Grospitch said.
Because tuition for students on the G.I. Bill is paid by Uncle Sam, it’s money schools can count on, Fleisher said. “There’s no chance some family financial crisis might interrupt those payments.”
On top of that, she said, “Veterans are good for the student population. They add a lot of diversity.”
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