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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Tuition bill aims to help veterans

Annie Marum
Annie Marum / Arizona Daily Wildcat Robert Rosinski, one of the veterans working with ASA to get in-state tuition for all veterans, works on homework before one of his classes.

All honorably discharged veterans could be eligible for in-state tuition starting next semester, if a new bill is passed.

The Arizona Students’ Association helped draft House Bill 2410 with input from the UA Student Veterans of America club last semester. The bill will provide veterans with in-state tuition to increase their access to higher education and draw them to Arizona universities.

Veterans face challenges in attending college because they are a transient group, according to civil engineering sophomore Robert Rosinski, Arizona legislative director for the Student Veterans of America. He said a veteran may be a resident of one state but be stationed in another, which can pose problems when choosing a university after service.

Many veterans have to pay out-of-state tuition until they can achieve residency.

“”If I was not married to my wife or she was not working in Arizona, I would have to pay out-of-state tuition,”” said Rosinski, who served in Iraq and is still in the United States Air Force Reserves. “”So I would not attend here. I wanted to come here because they have a top-notch engineering college, but the cost would have prohibited me from doing that.””

J.P. Masson, a student studying English and Latin American studies, served in the Marine Corps from 2003 to 2007. He was a Florida resident but came to the UA because he has family nearby.

“”It started out as a concern because I didn’t know how I could fully pay for it,”” he said. “”It ended up working out well, but there were some timing issues about getting money.””

Masson is now considered an Arizona resident and said the bill will give veterans more options.

“”Especially when you’re first out of the military and trying to figure out what you want to do,”” he said.

Access to education is an important part of transitioning back into civilian life, Masson said.

Veterans are more likely than other groups to become homeless and commit suicide.

“”We either excel or we are at the bottom rung,”” Rosinski said. “”We don’t have a lot of middle ground.””

He said the bill will help them succeed by reducing tuition costs to what is covered by the Montgomery GI Bill, which allows veterans to receive monthly education benefits after a minimum service obligation in the military.  

GI Bill awards vary based on years of service and other factors, according to Maralynn Berstein, coordinator for Veteran Services. The maximum award covers the cost of tuition and includes books and living stipends. She said the bill will help out-of-state students who do not receive the full award.

“”It will attract a lot more students who don’t have 100 percent of the GI Bill,”” she said. “”This benefits them tremendously.””

The bill will also benefit the university and state of Arizona, according to Elma Delic, ASA board chair. She said many veterans who come to the state for college will live here after graduation.

“”They will continue to be an economic driver in the state of Arizona,”” said Delic, a journalism and political science senior.

Veterans also bring diversity to the school and the state, she said. Many of them have traveled the world and can bring their experiences back to campus.

“”Veterans offer a different perspective to bring back to the UA community,”” Delic said.

Two committees already passed the bill. It will then go before the Arizona House of Representatives within the next few weeks.

“”From what we hear, we have a pretty good chance of passing,”” Rosinksi said.

Rosinski said the bill has received some opposition from those who do not support U.S. war policies but has strong support overall.

“”Some people say ‘Why aren’t you giving that to regular students?'”” Rosinksi said. “”Our opinion, being veterans and the opinion of many people who work with us, is that this is completing the promise that was told to us when we joined up.””

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