Posted at 12:30 p.m. Nov. 8, 2013

State may lower non-resident veteran tuition

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Email the Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Committee to provide Wyoming Legislators your feedback on the bill.

Contact information:

Sen. Michael Von Flatern at Michael.VonFlatern@wyoleg.gov Rep. David Zwonitzer at David.Zwonitzer@wyoleg.gov

A Wyoming House bill, scheduled for introduction into February’s legislative session, would save out-of-state military veterans thousands of dollars.
The addendum suggested for a House bill would allow out-of-state veterans attending Wyoming colleges in-state rates during their first year of attendance, after which they would be eligible for resident rates. The addition is intended to give a break to honorably discharged veterans and those discharged under honorable conditions as they transition from their stations in the military to Wyoming residency.

“[The bill] was mainly in response to an out-of state-veteran asking for help for veterans being released [from active duty],” said one of the bill’s sponsor’s Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Fremont.

Though the changes received no opposition, the proposal did not make it onto the Senate floor during the 2013 session because of a lack of time. The draft has since been approved to be reviewed in the 2014 Wyoming legislative budget session, set to convene Feb. 10.

“It will be reintroduced as a committee bill in the next session,” Larsen said.

In 2011 the Post-9/11 GI Bill was stripped of its ability to pay all of an out-of-state veteran’s tuition in a move to broaden the GI Bill’s coverage for veterans and active duty soldiers.

Non-resident veterans attending Laramie County Community College are charged double what in-state students are required to pay, and now the GI Bill covers only half, said LCCC Financial Aid Technician Marnie Ott.

Out-of-state veterans attending the University of Wyoming found themselves owing $10,000 a year above what the GI Bill would cover after the 2011 changes.

“If we can give [out-of-state] veterans in-state tuition, their tuition will be covered by the Post-9/11-GI Bill,” Ott said of those eligible for 100 percent of the provisions offered by the GI Bill.

Of the 221 students currently using the GI Bill at LCCC, 15 are paying out-of-state rates; 12 of those 15 use the Post-9/11 version of the GI Bill, as verified by the LCCC financial aid office.

The University of Wyoming veteran services coordinator Marty Martinez estimated 380 veterans are currently utilizing the GI Bill at UW, with 35 veterans who would immediately benefit from this change to Wyoming’s college tuition policy.

At Western Wyoming Community College, “10 to 12 percent of veterans utilizing federal funding, over the last few semesters, pay out-of-state rates,” Financial Aid Technician Steve Davis said.

Other states such as Colorado have already adopted such policies in response to the changes implemented in the GI Bill, said Wyoming Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Laramie. He explained Wyoming is competing against those states’ scooping up veterans with their attractive tuition policies.

LCCC’s Ott noted: “The bill could definitely increase the [veteran] enrollment in medical fields. That’s a big one for [veterans].”
The estimated increase of non-resident veterans attending Wyoming colleges as a result of the bill, if passed, would compensate Wyoming colleges’ loss in tuition rates, Rep. Larsen said.

“The funding used to help [out-of-state veterans] would not be taken from scholarship funding,” he said.

Veterans seeking tuition help can also look into the Western Undergraduate Exhange (wiche.edu/wy), a Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education initiative available to non-residents for tuition assistance, as well as the Yellow Ribbon Program, a provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill available to veterans 100 percent eligible for GI Bill benefits. For more information on the Yellow Ribbon Program visit gibill.va.gov.


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