Opinion Web Exclusive

‘Everything’s bigger’ attitude continues to show in state assistance to veterans

David Delgado//The Daily Cougar

David Delgado//The Daily Cougar

For students attending Florida State University, big changes will impact the rate veterans will be charged for college tuition.

Last September, students and university administrators alike gathered in support of the new Senate Bill 84, a bill granting in-state tuition for veterans regardless of their residency. If this bill reaches the final stages of approval in the 2014 legislative session, it will launch the Congressman C. W. Bill Young Veteran Tuition Waiver Program — a program requiring all Florida state universities and colleges to waive the out-of-state fees for all honorably discharged veterans. An initiative of this proportion will push Florida State into the spotlight for being one of the most veteran-friendly campuses in the U.S.

Florida is not alone. Here in Texas, we have laws waiving the in-state tuition residency. After 9/11, the GI Bill was designed to give young veterans the best economic support and stability possible in order to attend public universities and colleges.

According to Military.com, veterans can have their full cost of tuition and fees waived, dropping the cost to practically nothing. The problem that plagues many applicants, however, is the fact that they need to adhere to very strict residency regulations to receive these benefits.

UH’s Veterans Services office, which is located in Suite 268 at the New University Center, has made the process as easy as possible. All forms are available for download on their website, and each form has a description and explanation of the purpose.

This is great for UH veterans. “The University of Houston is an approved training facility for veterans and a military-friendly institution,” according to the VS office website. “Depending on your specific need, two campus offices provide services to veterans. The two offices are Veterans Services and the Office of Registration and Academic Records.”

The University also has a student organization called the Veterans Collegiate Society, a community of veterans aiding other veterans in their transition to school life and helping to engage in the college experience in general.

Jason Herbert, a biology sophomore and veteran of the Air Force, explained the benefits of living and attending school in Texas. “You will need your DD Form 214 (discharge paperwork), and then you will need to fill out an online application at ebenefits for authorization, which will take about two to four weeks depending on the mail,” Herbert said. “After you have all these, you can go to your adviser and have them fill out the verification of enrollment that matches your degree, and you turn it in to the VA rep on campus. Every time thereafter is much easier, since it’s just a continuance form.”

In terms of tuition, Herbert said you have a few options. The GI Bill can be used for up to $90,000 for school. If you choose the post 9/11 option — which he did — it will provide three years of tuition, housing and book fees.

In terms of living and attending school in Texas, Herbert said, “It’s kind of hard to beat the state of Texas for benefits. It is one of the few states that has a windfall for its veterans. Even if you run out of GI money, there is still the Hazelwood Act, which picks up for schooling afterwards. I guess it would be nice for other states to have it, but then again, it’s good to be a Texan.”

After being asked what benefits he would like to see implemented nationwide, Herbert concluded, “Sometimes you get really good service, sometimes not. I guess you just have to see what day it falls under. Quite a bit of it is doing a lot of footwork on your own. If you can track the services you need, you will get the results you want. Otherwise … tough luck.”

I believe it is important that we not only thank the men and women who have served this country, but also honor their service as well. Thank you to all those veterans who have served and are still serving our country. Your service will not be forgotten.

Opinion columnist Juanita Deaver is an anthropology freshman and may be reached at [email protected].

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