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North Carolina Legislature and the Residency Requirement for GI Bill

July 3, 2012

Recently, North Carolina has been working on a bill to help student veterans who fell into hard times after the Post-9/11 GI Bill began paying only in-state tuition, which left thousands of students in North Carolina school to take out student loans in order to pay for their tuition. The General Assembly postponed a vote on a bill that would reduce tuition costs for student veterans for a year. However, the postponement has caused students at University of North Carolina-Wilmington to sue.

Usually student veterans don't have to pay anything. Tuition, housing and a stipend for student expenses is given to them, but now it's only for those who are residents of North Carolina. The new bill would have declared all veterans and dependents living in North Carolina as resident, regardless of how long they've lived in state. Now that the students are still left to wait on the monumental vote, they're suing for action from North Carolina's General Assembly.

The Student Veteran's Advocacy Group (SVAG) founded by UNCW student Jason Thigpen has advised students across North Carolina in residency hearings at state universities for a year. Veterans aren't able to receive in-state tuition, even after living in the state for years, because they had maintained an out-of-state residency while serving. Some student veterans aren't actually considered residents of any state, not even a home state.

As outrage grows from the students, they point to the fact that funding was promised upon joining the military and that has been taken away, leaving them with serious debt if they want to finish a college education. That's why it's a problem that the General Assembly is taking so long to do anything with the game changing bill.

"The General Assembly did not take the bill up," said Ann Marie Beall, director of military admissions for UNCW. "On the bad side, it doesn't look for the next year. But on the good side, it didn't fail. At least there's still hope for it."

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