PRESS RELEASE
From the Office of State Senator Leticia Van de Putte

For Immediate Release
July 31, 2009
Contact: Kathryn Freeman, (512) 463-0126

Texas Increases Higher Education Benefits for Veterans and Their Families

SAN ANTONIO — Friday, July 31st at 3:00pm, Senator Leticia Van de Putte joined Governor Perry, and Representative Frank Corte, Jr. and Representative Joaquin Castro as Governor Perry signed Senate Bill (SB) 297 and SB 93 in the Main Building at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Texas has the second largest veteran population in the nation with 1.7 million veterans who choose to call Texas home. The veteran population in Texas is also relatively young, 240,000 Texas veterans having seen combat duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, 12 percent of the national total.

SB 297 allows non-Texas veterans and their families to immediately pay in-state tuition and fees at a public university or college without requiring them to establish a 12 month residency in Texas. Previously, non-Texas veterans and their family members who sought to attend a Texas public university had to pay out-of-state tuition and fees until they lived in Texas for a full year. This new waiver will have a significant impact on their affordability of higher education for these veterans and their families.

In 2008, the difference between resident and non-resident tuition at a public institution for 30 semester credit hours for the school year was $8,100. At community colleges, the average difference was $2,100.

"Military service places unique demands on the men and women in uniform and their families, and as home to the second most active military duty families in the nation, Texas owes it to them to support their families and welcome them honorably when they return,” Gov. Perry said. “Last year, I called on the legislature to extend in-state tuition rates to eligible veterans, and Senate Bill 297 not only grants that request, but also extends that benefit to the spouses and children of our eligible veterans, and waives tuition completely for the children of Texas residents who have been deployed."

This legislation will make it easier for our proud service members and their families to pursue their dreams of a higher education and demonstrates the commitment of this state to them and their families. This is not something we give, they have earned it," said Senator Leticia Van de Putte, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs and Military Installations.

"San Antonio has a strong history of support for both the military and higher education. It is a great honor to see these bills which will benefit our veterans in obtaining their education signed here at UTSA," said Representative Corte, Chairman of the House Committee on Defense & Veterans Affairs.

SB 93, "The Hazlewood Legacy Act," clarifies how a Texas veteran establishes eligibility for their Hazlewood benefits, allows veterans to transfer their unused Hazlewood benefits to their children and provides that the Hazlewood benefits can be transferred to a spouse of a soldier who is killed or missing in action or totally disabled.

The Hazlewood Act provides an exemption from the payment of all tuition and some fees for up to 150 credit hours at any public institution in Texas. Texas veterans who have served at least 180 days of active military duty are eligible to receive the exemption.

"Remembering our service members is more than just a moment of silence on Memorial Day, or the raising of a flag on Veteran's Day, it is an unwavering commitment to our veterans for their service to all of us. As Chairwoman of the Veteran Affairs and Military Installations, I am honored to play a role in remembering their courage and sacrifice and will continue to search for innovative ways to assist our veterans and their families," said Senator Leticia Van de Putte.

"I am very pleased that Governor Rick Perry was in San Antonio today to sign such an important piece of legislation for our veterans and their families," said Representative Castro. "SB 93 will ensure that all honorably discharged veterans and their dependents receive the education benefits that we have promised. I am proud to have been a part of this effort for Texas veterans, who sacrifice so much for this country."

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