Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 177, legislation expanding in-state college tuition opportunities for veterans, was signed by Gov. Mike Pence at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. Members of the Indiana General Assembly were in attendance including State Representatives Bob Morris (R-Fort Wayne), David Ober (R-Albion), Phyllis Pond (R- New Haven), Dennis Zent (R-Angola), and Martin Carbaugh (R-Fort Wayne).
"As a veteran, I understand how difficult it can be to return to the workforce or continue education after finishing time in the service," said Rep. Zent. "This bill will make it easier for veterans to continue their education. As a society, we owe it to these men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedom."
The bill allows honorably discharged veterans and active National Guard members to receive in-state tuition if they enroll in a state college within a year of moving to Indiana. Veterans wishing to apply must enroll in a state college no later than 12 months after they are discharged from the military. Additionally, they will have to establish state residency within their first year.
"Our veterans deserve the highest amounts of respect for their dedication and sacrifice to our country," said Rep. Carbaugh. "Allowing them in-state tuition for higher education is a small way to say thank you and to assist them during the next stage of their lives."
In order to establish Indiana residency, veterans can use any of the following methods:
•Register to vote in Indiana
•Acquire an Indiana driver's license or a state identification card
•Register their motor vehicle in Indiana
•Provide any other proof approved by the commission
"The General Assembly has worked hard to implement ways to help our veteran's transition back into civilian life. I am determined to continue to support ways to assist these brave men and women find employment opportunities and high-quality jobs through furthering their education," said Rep. Morris.
Currently, there is no law qualifying veterans to receive in-state tuition if they move out of state or are stationed overseas, and this bill will expand opportunities for them to access a more affordable college degree.
There are countless instances over the years in which the Guard has been called to assist Hoosiers in a time of need. We have seen communities reunited following the destruction from tornadoes or flooding, and we have the Indiana National Guard to thank for that," said Rep. David Ober. "Our continued well-being and safety is reliant on the brave men and women in uniform who protect our freedoms on a daily basis. This legislation is just one way to help them following their service."
"The countless men and women who serve our country make so many sacrifices to defend our inalienable rights," said Rep. Pond. "This piece of legislation is a small token of our appreciation to their dedication."
SEA 177 was sponsored by Rep. Jim Baird (R-Greencastle) in the House and cosponsored by Rep. Dennis Zent (R-Angola), Rep. Gail Riecken (D-Evansville) and Rep. Justin Moed (D-Indianapolis).
"Indiana is committed to providing veterans, who sacrifice so much for our state and nation, every opportunity to succeed in their civilian affairs. This bill is one way that Indiana can show its gratitude for the incredible sacrifice that our veterans have made in service to our state and country," said Rep. Baird.