Editorial: Tuition hikes hit veterans
With the nation’s veterans already experiencing higher than average unemployment rates in a dismal job market, the last thing they need is yet another obstacle as they pursue additional education and training.
Yet that’s what has happened for hundreds of vets in North Carolina and other states. When changes to the G.I. bill took effect in August, they included a well-intentioned effort to help bridge the cost gap between public and private college tuition rates. But the revised bill also stipulated that only in-state tuition rates are covered. The new payment cap means that more than 400 veterans in N.C. universities — and many others at community colleges — face tuition bills thousands of dollars higher than anticipated because they don’t qualify for in-state rates, according to a recent report in the Fayetteville Observer.
Veterans advocacy groups have rightly raised an outcry urging Congress to revisit the G.I. bill change and restore the funding mechanism that made up the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition. But there’s a simpler solution that some states have already adopted. At least seven states grant all veterans in-state tuition rates, regardless of how long they’ve been a resident of that state. North Carolina isn’t among them, but it should be. As a state with a large military presence, North Carolina should be a leader in facilitating higher education for veterans — many of whom put college on hold and uprooted themselves and their families to serve their country.
We’re glad to see that some N.C. congressmen — including Reps. Mike McIntyre, G.K. Butterfield and Walter Jones — are helping lead the fight to restore the out-of-state tuition funding in Congress. State legislators should take up the cause when they reconvene next year in Raleigh.
Many veterans are trying to get back on their feet stateside after putting their boots on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan and many other places around the world. Ensuring they receive in-state tuition rates is small repayment for their sacrifices.