Two proposals in the Idaho Legislature would offer in-state tuition to veterans of the armed forces from anywhere in the U.S. The move could save a veteran up to $10,000 a year. Sponsors say the measure would boost Idaho’s workforce and be a proper thank you for service to the country.
Existing state law extends in-state tuition to current armed forces members, or their spouse or children, stationed in Idaho, and any veterans honorably discharged who came from Idaho or state during their discharge their intent to move to Idaho. A plan from Sen. Diane Bilyeu, D-Pocatello, would remove that last rule on stating intent to move to Idaho or previously living in the state. That way, veterans from anywhere in the U.S. could enroll in a community college or public university for less “I think the veterans deserve that,” she said. “People understand that veterans have sacrificed and they deserve the opportunity to gain skills so they can turn around and get jobs.”
A similar plan from Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, would expand in-state tuition to all veterans, regardless of their discharge status. “There are a number of things that a person can leave the military for that are not all that bad and they don’t get an honorable discharge,” he said. “Instead of precluding the people that want to better themselves after they leave the military, we want to give everybody an equal chance to go to college.” Hagedorn said encouraging more veterans to attend Idaho colleges and universities will help the state, as well. “Not only does it give them the opportunity for better costs for college, but it allows Idaho to attract really good people for our workforce. It’s kind of a combination: let’s recognize what veterans do, and let’s work on building Idaho’s workforce with proven good people.”
David Brasuell, head of the Idaho Division of Veterans Services, supports the measures to help veterans. “The state of Idaho’s not known for its wonderful veteran’s benefits,” he said. “This bill would help generate interest from veterans outside our state to come to universities in Idaho.” He said many new veterans are receiving additional financial support for higher education from the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill that went into effect last summer.
Both the House and Senate plans are currently awaiting committee hearings. Hagedorn said he feels strongly that lawmakers will pass his plan this session.
Several states, including Oregon, New Mexico, and Ohio, have enacted similar tuition breaks in the past two years. Montana, Wyoming and few other states offer free tuition for veterans who lived in that state prior to enlisting.