Friday, August 9, 2013

California: Give vets the same tuition rates

Veterans Deserve Same Tuition Rates as all California Students
Student Veterans of America (SVA) today offered its support for a measure under consideration in the California State Assembly that would allow veterans to qualify for the same in-state tuition rates currently extended to all qualifying California students.

Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the maximum amount qualifying student veterans are eligible for is the in-state tuition rate at public institutions of higher education.
"Today, student veterans living in California receiving the Post-9/11 GI Bill are forced to pay out of their own pocket if they don't qualify for in-state tuition," said SVA executive director Michael Dakduk. "No state should maintain a separate set of rules that force veterans - and their families - to relocate simply because they cannot afford to pursue a college education in their state."
Assembly Bill 13, sponsored by Assemblymember and retired Marine Corps Col. Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, would allow all recently discharged, released or retired members of the armed forces to qualify for in-state tuition rates at any California Community College, California State University or University of California. Since 2001, California has offered the same incentives to undocumented, non-U.S. Citizens.

"Our veterans deserve the best education possible," said Chavez. "Offering in-state tuition will provide veterans the option of attending one of our great universities where they will contribute to both our local and state economies.  Without this incentive, these men and women will likely choose schools elsewhere, taking their time, talent and skills with them."
According to estimates from Chavez, efforts to attract veterans to attend California schools included in his bill will add an estimated $20,000 per GI Bill recipient into the state's economy. 

Additionally, AB 13 encourages veterans to begin their education within the first year of receiving their discharge from active duty or reserves, a component of the legislation SVA particularly commends.
"I encourage California to join efforts in other states across the country to make an education more affordable for veterans regardless of residency requirements," said SVA board member and former commanding general of Marine Corps Installations West, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Michael Lehnert. "States welcoming student veterans will not only experience a significant economic benefit, but will also gain from their continued service as productive citizens."
The bill is scheduled for consideration in the California State Assembly Committee on Appropriations on Monday, August 12. Since 2010, three similar bills have been introduced in the assembly and have not been approved by the committee.

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