MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- A new act will allow veterans the opportunity to attend out-of-state colleges and pay in-state tuition.
The Section 702 of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, known as the "Choice Act," will ensure that public institutions of higher learning charge qualifying veterans and dependents in-state tuition and fees. The key word is qualifying. The benefits of this act will only apply to veterans who meet certain conditions.
For a veteran to use this benefit he must live in the state when the college is located, regardless of the previous residence of the veteran; enroll in the university within three years of discharge; and have served on active duty for 90 days or more.
These benefits can also be transferred to dependents as long as the transferor meets these conditions.
According to Melora McVickor, education services officer, this act will really change the way veterans pursue higher education. Veterans won’t have to be concerned with financial obligations regarding residency from another state.
"Veterans didn’t just serve one state, but the entire country. Because of their service, they should receive in-state tuition from universities, from the entire nation," she said. With this act, veterans can apply to universities that provide programs that are better suited within the fields of their professional goals.
To illustrate how much money could be saved, McVickor went to https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator. This site contains a full list of current states and IHLs that have calculated the exact amount of out-of-state tuition in comparison to in-state tuition and the difference between the two.
Although the Veterans Choice Act is extremely beneficial, it is still relatively new. Because the act is in its infancy stages, only a handful of states have complied with this act.
The Department of Veterans Affairs stated that "Public IHLs must offer in-state tuition and fees to all covered individuals with Post-9/11 GI Bill and Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty benefits for programs to remain approved for GI Bill benefits for terms beginning after July 1. VA will not issue payments for any students eligible for the Post-9/11 or the MGIB-AD until the school becomes fully compliant."
At the moment, only a handful of states complied with this act but many more are in the pipeline to go through the process. Because compliance varies by state, this act may require changes in state law or policy. Currently, the VA is working hastily with state representatives to establish compliance with the law before July 1.
The up-to-date list of states already in compliance includes:Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.
For a list of individual colleges that are in compliance, visit: http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/702.asp