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Indiana may expand in-state university tuition to veterans living in neighboring states

Times - 1/20/2021

Jan. 20—The General Assembly's ongoing efforts to lure more military veterans to the Hoosier State may soon no longer obligate recently discharged service members to even live in Indiana to receive one key benefit.

Senate Bill 93 would allow members of the U.S. military or Indiana National Guard who live in Illinois, or any state adjacent to Indiana, to pay in-state tuition for themselves, their spouse, or a dependent, at any public university in Indiana if enrollment begins within three years of receiving an honorable discharge from the service.

The sponsor, state Sen. Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville, said the measure is needed because a surprising number of out-of-state residents serve in the Indiana National Guard, and they deserve to be recognized for their service no matter where they live in civilian life.

Current Indiana law awards in-state tuition to any military or Indiana National Guard veteran, their spouse or dependent who settles in Indiana within one year of discharge.

Boots said extending the eligibility window to three years, and including residents of adjacent states, may encourage more military veterans to settle near Indiana, and ultimately decide to permanently relocate to Indiana if they are enticed by a reduced tuition rate to enroll at an Indiana public university.

"I don't think we're talking about a lot of people, and I think this is something they (universities) can absorb within their standard expenses," Boots said.

Jim Bauerle, vice chairman of The Military/Veterans Coalition of Indiana, said the idea for the legislation came from seven Indiana military veterans attending Purdue University Northwest who wondered why veterans living nearby in Illinois opted not to attend the Hammond university.

"They have at least 14 of their friends who are veterans who do not come to Purdue Northwest because it would cost them an additional $3,000 out-of-pocket to use their GI Bill," Bauerle said.

The Senate Committee on Education and Career Development next week is expected to consider amendments to the proposal before voting on whether to advance the measure to the full Senate.


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