The Washington Examiner published a recent article discussing in-state residency requirements of the G.I. Bill. While the G.I. Bill is an outstanding resource for veterans after they conclude their service in the military, there is a glaring issue that should be addressed.
It should go without saying, but serving in the military results in sacrifices being made. Some sacrifice blood, others sacrifice relationships, but one sacrifice that should never have to be made is education. That is the whole purpose of the G.I. Bill in the first place—so a veteran will be able to pursue his or her education after serving their country.
Unfortunately, sacrifices are having to be made by some because of in-state residency requirements. The Examiner article presents several veterans who were deemed out-of-state residents in accordance with state laws. The difficulty, however, is that due to military service, most service members are usually not in the state of their original residency, and have to move frequently with reassignments.
To give a hypothetical example: I was a Missouri resident when I entered the military. After multiple assignments in different states, I concluded my final 6 months of service in North Carolina. I enjoyed living there and decided to settle down and take advantage of my G.I. benefits to go to college. At the public institution I wanted to attend, I wouldn’t be eligible for in-state tuition because I haven’t lived in North Carolina for an entire year, and the G.I. Bill won’t offer much assistance on that front because it will only pay the actual net cost of in-state tuition. In other words, since I am not technically a resident, I have to pay the difference on the out-of-state tuition the G.I. Bill does not cover.
Though this example is hypothetical, this is a harsh reality for the veterans highlighted in this article, as well as for veterans around the country.
Sadly, only a few states have passed legislation to counter this provision. More need to do so. However, even among those states that have made attempts to address the in-state status issue, it is still confusing because the stipulations are all different, and few are definitive.
Regardless of what action is taken, every state should make every effort in its power to fix this problem. It doesn’t matter what each state’s plan looks like, but the end result should be to allow veterans to claim in-state residency so they can use the G.I. Bill for its intended purpose. Education costs should not have to be a burden on veterans, and they should not be penalized for the fluid living situation that comes with the territory of military service.
Until something is done, veterans who have to pay the difference on out-of-state tuition should look to veterans organizations for scholarships. DVNF’s scholarship program will open the application process on February 1st. The $1,000 scholarship is a great way to help offset the out-of-state tuition difference, as well as private schools whose tuition exceeds the G.I. Bill’s limit.