Tennessee Relaxes Residency Requirements for Veterans

On Monday, the Tennessee Senate expressed their approval for the Veterans Education Transition Support Act, or Tennessee VETS ACT, by a 30-0 vote.  If the House also approves military veterans could attend state public colleges and universities at the in-state tuition rate.

Tennessee VETS ACT allows for a former member of the U.S. armed forces, a former or current member of the reserves, or state National Guard unit member called into active military service to pay in-state tuition rates as long as they haven't been dishonorably discharged.  The bill also states that veterans must be eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill or Montgomery GI Bill benefits and enroll within 2 years after their discharge.

CSG 2014 Chairman Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris sponsored the bill.  Under existing law, unless veterans are current Tennessee residents, they must establish residency by living in the state for at least one year before they quality for in-state tution.  As institutions strive to become veteran-friendly, several state universities have put programs in place such as those at the University of Memphis and Austin Peay State University.

Part of the requirements to quality are maintaining continuous enrollment and, within a year of enrolling, to show intent to become a legal resident of the state.  Veterans must show at least two of the following to demonstrate their commitment to remain in Tennessee:  a state driver's license, Tennessee motor vehicle registration, proof of employment in the state, or other documentation clearly evidencing residence in the state.

An additional component of the bill is designation of colleges and universities that create support networks for veterans as they become VETS campuses.

The House version of the bill is scheduled to be reviewed in committee on Tuesday, March 4.