A bill that would grant in-state tuition for veterans passed in the Washington State Senate on Jan. 31, 2014. The bill would do so by “removing the one-year waiting period for veterans or active members of the military for purposes of eligibility for resident tuition.”
Steve Downing, interim director of Enrollment & Registrar Services, said that “this bill, if passed, will help those veterans who currently do not qualify for resident tuition when initially enrolling at Bellevue College.” While “it is hard to know how many veterans are choosing not to even attempt going to college based on expected costs related to residency status,” “tuition can be a struggle for veterans as it may be for many students. Having the burden of dealing with residency requirements is an additional burden.”
“I would see this affecting veterans in ways that are only positive,” said Adam Spokta, BC student and president of the Bellevue College Association of Veterans. “If a veteran decides, after being stationed at one of our military bases, to remain in the state of Washington for the education and employment opportunities our state can provide, then I see no reason to require that veteran to wait.”
Out of state costs can hinder a veteran’s ability to not only engulf themselves in the college atmosphere, but also to afford an education in the first place. “In-state tuition is not a barrier for veterans with the post-9/11 GI Bill, but many veteran students may not be using or may not be eligible for post-9/11,” said Spokta. “Out of state costs … can occasionally double the tuition, and that would be a barrier to nearly anyone.”
The piece of legislation was passed out of the state Senate on the same day as a version of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. Conversations surrounding the relation portray the two to be interlinked politically. “I personally don’t like how our system uses tit-for-tat bargaining to get things passed, but if adding this to the DREAM act helps get other non-traditional students an opportunity to benefit from college, I am fine with both being used to bring each other up,” added Spokta.
BC currently offers waivers for veterans who are ineligible for in-state tuition though this funding does not cover the entirety of the additional cost. Downing speculates that there will be an increase in veteran enrollment, however, he does not anticipate it to “increase proportionally compared to our current veteran student population.”