Last Thursday night, at the 11th hour — literally — the Washington State Legislature passed the veterans’ in-state tuition bill and now joins 28 other states that offer out-of-state veterans in-state tuition rates.
Previous to the passage of Senate Bill 5318, a veteran had to live in the state for a year to meet residency requirements for in-state tuition. The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition rates for many veterans was a deciding factor on where they would attend college. With the passage of the bill, the GI Bill will now cover the cost of tuition, regardless of what state the veteran list as his or her home of record.
Technically, both the House and Senate version of the veteran in-state tuition bill was dead on March 7 – but rules were modified to extend the deadline. The delay was due to a disagreement on which chamber would get credit.
As reported by the Tacoma News-Tribune, “The debate over who would get credit for the bill ended Thursday when the House took up the Senate’s version of the legislation and passed it unanimously.”
The article went on to quote two elected officials:
“I will sleep well knowing we valued this policy for our veterans more than we did the politics,” said Rep. Sherry Appleton, a Poulsbo Democrat who sponsored the House version of the veteran legislation.
Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, expressed a similar sentiment. Her veteran tuition bill was the one that ultimately passed the Legislature Thursday night.
“I am very pleased that we did the right thing,” Bailey said.
Bottom line: The end result is good. How we got there – embarrassing.
– By Michael Schindler
Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.