Steve Gonzalez of the Legion's Economic Division stressed the Legion's support of pending House legislation that would make student veterans eligible for in-state tuition at public colleges and universities, regardless of their residency status., before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

Legion: Give student veterans in-state tuition rates

Testifying before Congress on April 10, The American Legion stressed its support of pending House legislation that would make student veterans eligible for in-state tuition at public colleges and universities, regardless of their residency status.

The American Legion’s testimony before the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity was presented by Steve Gonzalez, assistant director of the Legion’s Economic Division in Washington.

The Legion supports passage of the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013 (H.R. 357), which would eliminate financial burdens that are now endured by about 40,000 nonresident student veterans. Since the Post-9/11 GI Bill only covers in-state tuition rates, veterans being charged out-of-state rates must make up the difference themselves.

That difference can be quite substantial. At Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, in-state tuition for the 2012-2013 academic year is $10,923; out-of-state students pay $25,915 – about two and a half times as much. If enacted, H.R. 357 would reduce tuition costs for student veterans at Virginia Tech by about $15,000 per academic year.

Gonzalez told the subcommittee that The American Legion has heard from many veterans who have had difficulties establishing state residency because of overseas deployments, permanent changes in duty stations, and other requirements of military service.

The Legion has been leading a state-by-state initiative to introduce and advocate for legislation that would make student veterans eligible for in-state tuition rates. Recent victories have been scored with legislatures in Maryland, Missouri, Indiana and North Dakota.

"As a result, 10 states have passed laws to waive the residency requirement," Gonzalez testified. "Another nine states have waived these for some veterans and military family members through university-specific policy changes…. Unfortunately, not all states or schools seem to recognize by their actions the necessity of fixing this problem."

H.R. 357’s provisions, if enacted, would apply to all public U.S. colleges and universities that qualify for GI Bill funding. Student veterans would automatically qualify for in-state tuition rates in all 50 states.

"Veterans shouldn’t have to assume tremendous financial burdens, or go into deep debt for their education, just because the military has taken them away from their home state," Gonzalez said. "The American Legion pledges to put our full weight behind this important legislation, and encourages this committee to aggressively pursue timely enactment."

The American Legion also supports several other pending House bills that address economic issues for veterans:

• VRAP Extension Act of 2013 (H.R. 562): Extends funding for the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) so that veterans using the program are covered until the end of the 2014 spring semester.

• Servicemembers’ Choice in Transition Act of 2013: Replaces the military’s Transition Assistance Program with the Transition Goals Plans Success program. Servicemembers would attend week-long classes that would emphasize financial planning, job-hunting skills, and how military work skills can apply to the private sector.

• Improving Job Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2013 (draft bill): Improves and increases on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs or veterans, especially for non-managerial employees.

• VetSuccess Enhancement Act (H.R. 844): Extends the eligibility period for veterans with service-connected disabilities to enroll in certain Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment programs. The current 12-year eligibility period would be increased by five years, but The American Legion would prefer to see the time restriction eliminated altogether.

• H.R. 1305: Provides clarification regarding eligibility for services under the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP). This is the only nationwide program that helps homeless veterans get back into the work force. Currently, the Department of Labor will not allow homeless veterans to participate in HVRP if they are living in a residence provided through the HUD-VASH voucher program. This bill would remove such a restriction.

Last year, The American Legion supported several bills to help veterans on the economic front that became law, including the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, the Veteran Skills to Jobs Act, and the Improving Transparency of Education Opportunities for Veterans Act.


  1. After further research on Arizona State University, I have noticed that there is no mention of time restraints after separation. So it looks as though legislation language on this bill for veterans and in state tuition, seems to have worded a time restraint from separation from active duty as for 3 years for use of this benefit. It seems that certain states erase that criteria and don't impose any kind of restraints though not all of them. So it pays to check around certain states. Looks like ARIZONA is looking "Friendly" after all for the moment.
  2. If you read into this bill, there are time restraints according to the eligibility requirements for in state tuition for veterans. I believe within 3 years after separation from the military. However, I am not sure that perhaps each state may induce their own criteria. I was looking over some, noticed MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY didn't mention any requirements after separation in terms of time. I noticed in Florida, they required within 15 after separation. Others were like only for ONE year I think Nevada. So I'm not sure how uniform all of this is. I think they should get rid of the time restraints after separation. If not, many will miss out. Many veterans don't go back to college till after many years when in their 30's or 40's. I could never understand why a GI bill too has to expire for educational benefits. It's a scam. When things like this gets pushed through legislation, there is always a catch 22. How many Veterans will actually take advantage of this in those time frames? Most are all ready in state residents of their own states.
  3. I would like to see the Job Opportunities for Veteran's Act go through. The main issue is that VA is one of the worst on hiring veterans from what I have seen from my experiences.
  4. "Improving Job Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2013 (draft bill): Improves and increases on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs or veterans, especially for non-managerial employees". Why? After reading the bill, it seeks to help veterans with apprenticeship Programs and OJT. What does that mean? Didn't the military teach you a skill all ready? Isn't there college money like a GI bill? Wasted program.
  5. They want to give every illegal in-state tuition everywhere so is a no brainer to me! Trained educated vets make the best students/employees.
  6. It's all about MONEY. They don't care about the Veteran. Veterans get used too much as political pawns....."Look what we do for Veterans".....But, after reading the fine print, there are obstructions and obstacles, hindrance in the wording. I'm sick of it.
  7. FYI: Arizona passed an instate tuition rate eligibility law in April, 2011. If you are an honorably discharged qualify for instate rate at all public universities and community colleges regardless of home of record or any other residency definition. We want more Veterans to come to Arizona and we want veterans to be successful now and in the future. Our vision is to establish Arizona as the most veteran supportive state in the nation in education, jobs and wellness.
  8. Nice words, but the states all say the same thing. They all want to establish themselves as "Veteran Friendly". Friendly to which Veteran? All Veterans? Or certain veterans like "Wartime Veterans" and "Disabled Veterans" or "active duty Veterans with 24 continuous months of service, or "Reserves for training purposes only Veterans". Which Veterans are Arizona friendly to? While on the same breath, about that in state tuition for veterans, can I use my honorable discharge now? I live in Texas, I want to go to college in Arizona. I was separated in 1988. Can I still do this? Am I the "Correct" Veteran? I want to buy a home in Arizona, and use my VA home loan. But wait. I served in the reserves and don't rate this loan. Will Arizona being a "Veteran Friendly" state offer me something comparable with no PMI insurance payments?
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