Every year more then one hundred thousand veterans return home from Iraq and Afghanistan to restart their lives. Many of those men and women spent their free moments while deployed day dreaming about achieving a brighter future by attending college and earning a degree. With the recent passage of the Post 9/11 GI Bill those dreams are now within reach.
Unfortunately, due to the transitory life style of many service members, some unlucky veterans cannot meet educational residency requirements, and will be penalized for their service. A returning service member who had little or no control on where s/he was stationed may not qualify for in state tuition at their local state college. Whether a servicemember is stationed in North Carolina, Germany or even Iraq, the needs of the military prevail over the desires of the servicemember and therefore we have solemn obligation to honor their selfless service.
With the passage of the new Post 9/11 GI Bill, the effects of these policies becomes a direct impediment to the promise that we make to our nation’s protectors. The Post 9/11 GI Bill will pay the in-state tuition rate at any public, undergraduate institution. Consequently, if a state residency requirement penalizes honorable service by requiring the returning veteran to pay out of state rates then even the new GI Bill won’t fulfill that promise.
We at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) believe that each state should model their residency requirements for veterans on Ohio’s example. Ohio recently passed legislation that rewarded national service by offering in state tuition for any veteran with honorable service. This forward thinking policy acknowledges the transitory nature of military service and strengthens the opportunities for veterans in Ohio to achieve a first class future.