VETS Legislation Offers In-State Tuition Rates and Academic Support for Veterans
Legislation creating a statewide support structure that offers in-state tuition rates for veterans pursuing higher education in Tennessee overcame its first hurdle this week with a unanimous vote from the Senate Education Committee. The Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Act encourages enrollment of veterans and removes barriers known to impede their success in attaining higher education credentials.
The VETS Act ensures that veterans have a clear, easy pathway to attend college in Tennessee. It will also recognize and assist those soldiers who are coming home and exploring their education options.
Currently, recently-discharged veterans relocating to Tennessee must pay out-of-state tuition rates until residency is formally established. Under Senate Bill 1433, veterans enrolling within 24 months of discharge immediately receive the in-state tuition rate when starting college classes, eliminating the issue of residency for those relying on GI Bill benefits. To maintain in-state status and rates, veterans have one year to present proof of established residency, such as a driver’s license, motor vehicle registration or proof of employment. Registering to vote also fulfills the requirement.
The Act also creates a “VETS Campus” designation to recognize and promote schools that make veteran enrollment a priority. Higher education institutions that satisfy veteran-friendly criteria, such as specialized orientation and the availability of mentoring programs, can receive the designation.
The bill now goes to the Senate Calendar Committee where it will be scheduled for final consideration by the Senate.