Reinforcing North Carolina’s ranking as the most military-friendly state in the nation, Governor Pat McCrory signed legislation into law earlier this afternoon that will make it easier for veterans of military service to attend public universities in North Carolina.
Senate Bill 478, unanimously approved earlier this month by the General Assembly, waives the 12-month residency requirement for in-state tuition for those individuals entitled to federal education benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty Education Program and the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program.
The 12 month residency requirement would be waived for any veteran who meets the following criteria:
- Served active duty for at least 90 days in the Armed Forces, the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
- Was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.
- Qualifies for admission to the institution of higher education.
- Enrolls within 3 years of the veteran’s discharge or release.
- Qualifies for and uses federal educational benefits under either the 38 USC Chapter 30 (Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty Education Program) or 38 USC Chapter 33 (Post -9/11 Educational Assistance).
- The veteran’s abode is North Carolina (which means the veteran actually lives in NC, whether temporarily or permanently.)
- Provides the institution of higher education with a letter of intent to establish legal residence in North Carolina.
The 12 month residency requirement would be also waived for any other person who meets the following criteria:
- The person is the recipient of a veteran’s federal educational benefits under either 38 USC Chapter 30 (Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty Education Program) or 38 USC Chapter 33 (Post -9/11 Educational Assistance).
- The person qualifies for admission and enrolls in an institution of higher education within 3 years of the veteran’s discharge or release from the Armed Forces, the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- The person’s abode is North Carolina.
- The person provides the institution of higher education with a letter of intent to establish legal residence in North Carolina.
Governor McCrory today also signed into law Senate Bill 43, improving job opportunities for veterans by extending the time period needed to qualify for a Commercial Drivers License. Representative Szoka was the primary sponsor of the original legislation last session.
“Today is a great day for veterans and military families in North Carolina,” Governor McCrory said. “Taking care of our veterans is a sacred trust, and I want to thank the General Assembly for making in-state tuition and enhanced credit for military experience a top priority.”
Earlier this month, Governor McCrory also signed House Bill 595 into law, also co-sponsored by Representative Szoka, that recognizes military police experience to count towards North Carolina’s law enforcement certification.
Senate Bill 478 is in response to the troubling case of Hayleigh Perez, a U.S. Army veteran stationed at Fort Bragg. In 2012, the University of North Carolina denied her in-state tuition after she had been deployed to Iraq.
From ABC News:
North Carolina Denies Veteran
In-State Tuition, Saying She Was Not a Resident
The University of North Carolina system has told Hayleigh Perez, a U.S. Army veteran, that she was not a North Carolina resident and does not qualify for in-state tuition after she and her husband were on active duty for the past several years.
Originally from Iowa, Perez, 26, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2005 and was stationed in Fort Bragg, N.C. before being deployed to Iraq in January 2007. After serving there for 15 months, she returned to the U.S. in March 2008 and was honorably discharged in Sept. 2009.
She and her husband, an active duty service member, bought a home in North Carolina and continued to pay property taxes for it while he was stationed in Texas.
When he was ordered back to North Carolina in April 2012, Perez applied to take classes at two University of North Carolina schools: Fayetteville State University (UNC’s FSU) and the University of North Carolina Pembroke (UNCP).
She decided to take spring classes at UNCP because of the program offerings, though the school did not categorize her as an in-state resident for tuition purposes. Meanwhile, UNC’s FSU did label Perez, who last paid income taxes to the state of Iowa during her military career, as a North Carolina resident.
“I thought it would be easy to reverse the decision and appeal it because the other school classfied me as in-state and I had several documents that showed ties to North Carolina,” she said. Those documents included bills and her voting record since 2004.
From January to March, she has been appealing the University of North Carolina to allow her to fully utilize the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which only covers in-state tuition. The difference in tuition per semester is $4,603.50. It might be a small amount to some, but she said it represents the university’s “hostile” treatment to veterans. Without help from the university, she has relied on the help of the Student Veterans Advocacy Group, a national student veterans organization.
The university ultimately rejected her claim. Because she has been an at-home mom raising her two-year old daughter, she said her lack of income tax filings may have contributed to the university’s decision to reject her claim as a state resident… (to continue reading, click here)
North Carolina has the third largest Active Duty, National Guard and Reserves footprint in the nation (with over 100,000 military personnel) and a total of 769,000 veterans residing in every county across the state. The military is North Carolina’s second largest economic sector, supporting 540,000 jobs, providing $30 billion in state personal income, $48 billion in gross state product, and employing 8% of North Carolina’s workforce.
For more information, please read “The Economic Impact of the Military on North Carolina,” published by The Labor & Economic Analysis Division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
Related Articles of Military Interest
- Remembering D-Day: June 6, 1944
- Operation Overlord 2014
- Saluting North Carolina’s Veterans
- Uncommon Valor: Kyle Carpenter
- Honoring Our Military
- Military Affairs Commission
- Supporting our Sporting Soldiers
- Protecting Vets from Identity Theft
- The Brass to Class Act
- Limiting tall buildings near North Carolina’s Military Bases
- Preserving military readiness
- Honoring the Army Reserve
- Commercial Driver’s Licenses for Vets