New law mandates in-state tuition for vets studying at all public colleges starting next year

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Good news for U.S. vets: starting next year, you’ll qualify for in-state tuition at any public school, no matter where you live.

This perk was part of the $16.3 billion Veterans Administration reform bill that President Obama signed into law last Thursday.

Thirty states already offer in-state tuition to all veterans. But this will extend the discount to the remaining 20 states, including California.

At the University of California, for example, in-state tuition and fees are right at $13,200 a year. For non-California residents, it’s more than $36,000.

So the new law could save a Berkeley or UCLA-bound vet $22,800 a year – which is not small change.

This also solves a problem for veterans just returning from overseas duty. They sometimes have a hard time establishing in state residency in time to go to school at the in-state rate.

Another bonus: In-state tuition must be offered to a veteran’s spouses and dependents.

There’s been some pushback from states where it’s not law already because the schools won’t be reimbursed for the tuition they’re missing out on when vet’s pay in-state prices.

That’s a valid concern at a time state governments just keep cutting and cutting support for higher education.

But I think most Americans would agree that helping veterans get a college education is the greater good in this situation.

Now, this won’t apply until fall 2015 and isn’t open to all vets. You must:

  • Have served at least 90 days active duty.
  • Enroll in college three years after being discharged or released.
  • Or be the spouse or dependent of an eligible vet.

But if this is you, and you’re about to start classes at a public college this fall, make sure you’re not paying out-of-state tuition in a state law where those charges have already been waived.

If you’re enrolled in a state where vets are still being charged out-of-state tuition there’s no harm in asking if they’ll give you the new discount a year early.

Let them know you’re there.

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