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Student veterans fight for in-state tuition

Veterans are having trouble using the GI Bill at state schools, if they’ve moved frequently, reports AP.  New rules that took effect in August say vets can collect up to $17,500 a year at private colleges but only the cost of in-state tuition at public institutions. That makes state residency an issue.

A Missouri native, Justin Curley was a medic in the Air Force. He left the service in 2009, settled in New Orleans and applied to the nursing program at Delgado Community College. Denied in-state status, he borrowed $3,000 a year to pay out-of-state tuition. But a friend persuaded him to protest.

“Essentially, because I constantly moved with the Air Force, the Louisiana Community and Technical College System is taking away the veterans benefits I rightfully earned in favor of unwritten policies that are left up to the discretion and judgment of the board and chancellor,” he wrote. “To me, that says I’m a resident of nowhere. All because of my service.”

In October, Curley met with newly installed Chancellor Monty Sullivan. Not only did Sullivan grant Curley the in-state rate, he refunded his money back to fall 2011.

The graduation rates of veterans using the GI Bill will be reported publicly, announced Eric Shinseki, secretary of Veterans Affairs.

“The best measurements of success are completion rates,” Mr. Shinseki told a crowd of several hundred student veterans. “Degrees, certificates of completion, certifications, licensing—that to me is how you measure. Not who goes in the front door, but who completes the program.”

In the fall-2012 semester, 480,000 students were enrolled under the GI Bill, Shinseki said. The department will work with the National Student Clearinghouse to track graduation rates, reports the Chronicle of Higher EducationStudent Veterans of America, which has 700 campus chapters around the country, brokered the agreement.