The G.I. Bill might allocate enough tuition money for veterans to attend public universities, but an increasing number of former servicemembers are struggling to pay for room and board at out-of-state tuition prices due to a lack of benefits.
According to an analysis from News21's post-9/11 veterans project, 29 states have policies that force veterans to empty their pockets on public schools outside their state of residency. Although the G.I. Bill currently covers all tuition, fees and room and board, the exorbitant out-of-state tuition prices typically exceed the higher-education benefits.
While the easiest way to avoid these tuition costs would be to stay in your home state, that is not always an option. California, for instance, has the highest number of servicemembers in the nation, and after years of service, many military members call the Golden State home. However, the state also requires veterans to live within its border for a full year prior to qualifying for in-state tuition. Military service does not count as residency.
Thousands of veterans, including 31-year-old Brian Oller, enroll in the University of California system only to discover that they are not covered by their veteran benefits.
''I didn't know about the out-of-state tuition until the day I showed up," Oller told The Kitsap Sun.
Fortunately, veterans can alleviate their tuition costs through benefits such as the Yellow Ribbon Program, a subset of the Department of Veterans Affairs that reimburses schools with high tuition costs, the news outlet reports. A total of 21 states also have policies that eliminate residency requirements for veterans.