Enrolling in a higher education program in Utah just got a lot more affordable for military veterans and their families.
Beginning July 1, public universities and colleges in Utah began offering “resident-rate” tuition and fees to veterans and their dependents, regardless of their formal state of residence.
The new law, which is part of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, requires that schools charge in-state tuition and fee amounts to all “covered individuals,” which are defined in the act as follows:
• Veterans enrolled in a public college or university within three years of a discharge from a period of active-duty service of 90 days or more.
• Spouses or children using transferred benefits who enroll in a school within three years of the transferer’s discharge from 90 or more days of active-duty service.
• Spouses or children of deceased veterans who enroll in school within three years of the veteran’s death.
The Department of Veterans Affairs says all of the covered individuals will retain their status as long as they remain continuously enrolled in school.
State colleges and universities usually require those receiving in-state tuition rates to have been a resident of the state where the school is located for at least a year. But the new law means that military veterans or dependents planning to attend any one of Utah’s 10 public colleges or universities will automatically be eligible for the in-state rate.
Charlie Chandler, Weber State University’s veterans coordinator, said paying in-state rates provides a tremendous benefit to veterans.
“It’s a huge deal. We’re talking about thousands and thousands of dollars over the life of someone’s education.”
At WSU, in-state residents pay nearly $9,000 less than their out-of-state counterparts for one year of school. Full-time tuition for in-state students during the 2015-16 school year is $4,456, while nonresidents pay $13,369. Student fees and books are the same price for all students, regardless of residency.
Over the life of a four-year bachelor’s degree, in-state residents at WSU pay $35,652 less than out-of-state residents.
According the VA, as of Sept. 30, about 152,000 veterans live in Utah, although a state-run database that relies on information provided by the Utah Driver’s License Division and Department of Workforce Services says the number is closer to 190,000.