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Veterans may save thousands with passing of new bill

By July 1, military veterans may no longer be required to pay exorbitant out-of-state tuition fees due to the possible passing of bill H.R. 357, which will save veterans significant amounts of money.

Bill H.R. 357, also known as the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013, is poised to make many improvements to the benefits and services veterans receive. The most significant improvement this bill contains is that it would grant military veterans, discharged within the last three years, residential status in the state they are pursuing higher education in therefore, qualifying them to receive in-state tuition rates and the benefits of the GI Bill.

Palomar, among many of the community colleges statewide, are already gearing up to accommodate veterans if the bill does indeed pass. Director of Veteran Services, Mary San Agustin, stated “Palomar will handle this well, it’s an easy adjustment, and we are definitely going to market it to our veterans.”

“The enrollment offices are planning to get BOG, Board of Governors fee wavier, because once this becomes law the veterans don’t just get in-state tuition they also qualify for the fee waiver,” she added.

Currently, The Post 9/11 GI Bill covers the cost of in-state tuition and fees for those veterans attending public universities and community colleges. If passed, this new bill would open the opportunity of higher education to many more veterans.

Upon hearing about the proposed bill, student veteran, Michael Bailey said that proving residency “would become one less headache that I have to deal with, one less barrier to get over or to explain to a bunch of people.”

The nature of the military makes is difficult for those who serve to establish residency anywhere. This causes many barriers for active duty military and veterans alike.

As H.R 357 awaits approval by the Senate, it appears to be on the path to becoming a nation wide law after being passed by the House unanimously in February of last year.

This bill being passed would be a win-win for all parties involved, veterans said. The government and veterans would spend less money, and colleges would see more enrollment.

Palomar College has nearly 2,000 veterans currently enrolled; H.R. 357 could very well put the amount of veterans attending well above that. The cost of out-of-state tuition for Palomar students is $200 per unit as opposed to $46 for students with residential status. Furthermore, the difference can be upward of $10,000 at most public 4-year universities.

“This bill would bring more veterans to this school because it would make it more affordable and this is southern California, you can’t beat this weather, ” President of the Palomar Student Veteran Organization Andres Garcia said. “For veterans adjusting back to civilian lifestyle can be tough and this is not another burden they need.”

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