“Florida G.I. Bill” revised to ease costs of education for veterans


char Pratt

Florida Governor Rick Scott addresses the public in FAU’s bookstore on Feb. 12 about eliminating sales tax on college textbooks. Idalis Streat | Contributing Photographer

Benjamin Paley, Contributing Writter

A revision to a Florida bill that took effect May 21, 2015  helps out-of-state veterans afford a college education by automatically qualifying them for in-state tuition rates.

To aid with making sure military veterans are able to receive an education, Florida Governor Rick Scott passed the Florida G.I. Bill in March 2014, which waives out-of-state tuition fees for military veterans.

The recent revision specified in section 13(a)(1) reads that to qualify one must be an honorably discharged “veteran of the United States Armed Forces, the United States Reserve Forces, or the National Guard who physically resides in this state while enrolled in the institution.”

For example, if you are a veteran from Kentucky, and are accepted into a Florida state college or university, you will qualify for in-state tuition rates, as long as you reside in the state of Florida while pursuing your degree.

Gov. Scott’s previous bill covered a given number of credit hours, up to 110 percent of those applicable to a degree.

This revision, passed unanimously by the Florida House of Representatives and Senate, removed this provision and now covers all costs for a four year-degree.

In addition to the fee waivers, Florida Atlantic University provides its own support for student veterans.

The Military and Veterans Affairs office, headed by Dr. Andrea Oliver, “focuses on providing support services and educational programs that promote student success and aid in the transition from military to higher education.”

According to Oliver, Florida Atlantic University has “approximately 1,266 students who self-identified as military or veteran or received some form of veteran education benefit.”

That number includes military dependents and those on active duty. The Student Veterans advisory Council, which works continuously to assess services and programs provided to veterans, is 80 percent composed of veterans.

Other services, like counseling and advising, are also provided to veterans. Oliver believes that students are satisfied with the services and programs they provide, but at least one student feels otherwise.

Casey Martin is a History major who serves in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (R.O.T.C) Program.  Martin did not comment on impact of the bill on veterans’ services, but he thinks the veterans’ program can be expanded.

He also acknowledged that it is “difficult for soldiers who are disconnected with society to reintegrate themselves with knowledge and hurt that no one around them can understand.”