A new federal law guarantees veterans tuition benefits when they enroll in a public university in the United States.
The Veterans’ Access to Care Through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014, signed into law by President Barack Obama earlier this month, mandates states give veterans in-state tuition rates for any public college in the nation within three years of their discharge from active duty. In special cases, the tuition break can be applied to a military member’s dependents and spouse as well. Previously, the decision to grant tuition benefits to veterans was left up to each state.
At the University of Georgia, a similar tuition cut existed prior to the new federal mandate. However, according to a University System of Georgia policy, personnel could waive out-of-state tuition based on their status in the military, but could only retain it “as long as the student(s) remain(s) continuously enrolled and the military sponsor remains on active military status.”
Ted Barco, director of the Student Veterans Resource Center at UGA, said student veterans in addition to UGA itself will ultimately benefit from the new federal law.
“In my mind, it’s a win-win because the University of Georgia can cast a broader net to more highly qualified student veterans across the nation who meet Georgia’s rigorous standards,” he said.
Other than being granted in-state tuition, student veterans may also qualify for financial aid packages under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which awards up to 100 percent of tuition and fees at public universities and $20,235.02 per academic year at private school, as well as supplies and housing stipends. The minimum requirement to qualify for aid is serving at least 90 days on active duty after Sept. 11, 2001.
Students who have served in the armed forces receive ample accommodation from the University and often complete their degrees while remaining competitive academically with their peers, Barco said.
“I think it’s a great place for veterans to land,” he said. “Our veterans perform at almost identical rates as the undergraduate and graduate students in the general population.”
Geoff Rapp, a junior psychology major from Kennesaw who came to UGA after serving in the war in Afghanistan, said in a previous Red & Black article that tuition assistance is essential for veterans that wish to receive an education.
“Without military tuition assistance I wouldn’t be here at this school,” Rapp said in the article.