Financing America’s finest

All states ought to grant in-state tuition waivers for veterans.

Luis Ruuska

On Veterans Day last week, we honored those who have served, but we must also combat the problems facing our nation’s finest.

One problem veterans face is something that most students can relate to: finding a way to finance one’s education.

With the war in Iraq completed and the war in Afghanistan winding down, veterans are returning home, and 1 million of them have already enrolled in higher education over the past four years. This number will only continue to grow.

However, many veterans are finding their choices of out-of-state schools are limited due to high non-resident tuition, which has skyrocketed in recent years in many states.

Although the Post-9/11 GI Bill covers full tuition costs, the bill limits veterans to in-state public universities.

This may reduce some costs of the bill, but it also robs veterans of a choice that other students enjoy: choosing the best-fit college. Establishing residency in another state can take up to a year.

These high costs prevent many veterans from loaning their unique world perspectives and skills to universities outside of their own state.

However, many states have recognized this problem and are actively seeking to make higher education accessible to out-of-state veterans.

Twenty states, including Minnesota, have adopted laws providing student veterans with an in-state residency waiver to help cover the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition. Another 10 states currently have similar measures pending.

The University of Minnesota–Twin Cities adopted a non-resident tuition waiver for veterans that took effect in 2006. It allows the University to charge veterans resident tuition rates for their undergraduate degrees.

It bears repeating that veterans have put their lives on the line in defense of our freedom. Many of them forwent post-secondary education in pursuit of military service. The very least we can do is make higher education affordable in order to ensure their transition to civilian life is a little easier, even if it is only financially.