June 29, 2015
Johnson State College will begin offering a new education benefit this week for veterans and military-connected students. As of Wednesday, July 1, all veterans, regardless of their residency status, will qualify for in-state tuition rates. The benefit –- which also will be offered by the other four Vermont State Colleges and the University of Vermont -– will remove a barrier to higher education for veterans.
“We are indebted to our nation’s veterans and are pleased to offer in-state tuition rates to all who come to the Vermont State Colleges to further their education,” Jeb Spaulding, chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges, said at a news conference Monday at the Montpelier campus of the Community College of Vermont. He was joined by representatives from the Vermont State Colleges, UVM and the Vermont Office of Veterans Affairs, including David Bergh, dean of student life and college relations at JSC.
The new policy aligns with the Veterans Access, Choice & Accountability Act of 2014, which includes a provision mandating that all public institutions of higher education provide the in-state tuition benefit to veterans. Available at any college in the VSC and at UVM, the new benefit applies to:
Any member of the armed services who is transferred to Vermont;
Any veteran who lives in Vermont (regardless of formal state of residence) and enrolls in a member college within three years of discharge from a period of active duty service of 90 days or more; and
Anyone using a veteran’s transferred benefits who lives in Vermont and enrolls in a member college within three years of the transfer or the veteran’s discharge from a period of active duty service of 90 days or more.
The benefit also expands the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (Fry Scholarship) to provide full Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to spouses of service members who died in the line of duty after 9/11.
“We know that a post-secondary credential is one of the best routes to a good job. We recognize that military connected students bring a wealth of strengths as well as unique challenges to the college environment. The VSC welcomes you and stands ready to support you as you earn your degree,” Community College of Vermont President Joyce Judy said.
Many members of the military have had lives interrupted by deployments or frequent moves, and by the time they transition, they are “stateless” for purposes of education benefits. Veterans and military-connected students facing out-of-state tuition rates often have to cover these higher costs with loans, increasing the cost of their education.
Nationally, more than 5 million post-9/11 service members are expected to transition out of the military by 2020. Vermont is already home to nearly 49,000 veterans. While the number of veterans who have some college experience compares similarly to the general population, their degree or credential completion rates are lower, according to the Veterans Administration.