All vets could get free Illinois' education

Published 04/15 2013 04:14PM

Updated 04/15 2013 05:36PM

SPRINGFIELD -- It could soon be easier for out-of-state veterans to go to school in Illinois. A new bill would let them qualify for in-state tuition rates. WCIA-3's Ashley Michels keeps us Connected to the Capitol.

All veterans may be able to go to school here for free. If you're a veteran and you're from Illinois, you can get your tuition waived at public universities. But, if you're from another state and want to come to school here, you have to pay extra.

That's something lawmakers want to change. There are a lot of perks to serving in the military. One of them is the chance to get a paid education.

"I don't think I would be who I am today without having been a veteran."

Doug Gregory spent five years in the Army.

"I had a couple of choices when I got out. One of those was to be a paramedic. I went into nursing."

Now he's getting his master's at UIS. It's something he says would have been tough without veterans' benefits.

"I think I would have found a way, but it made  the transition so much easier. I got to work less. I got to focus my studies more."

Gregory is from Illinois so his UIS tuition is fully covered under the Post 911 GI Bill. But not all veterans have it so easy.

"People are stationed in Illinois and they may not meet the residency requirements but decide they like it and want to stay here. Maybe they've started a family here."

But, that would mean paying more for school here, so lawmakers want to give "out-of-staters" the same tuition status as Illinois' veterans at no extra cost.

"That would give them the opportunity to go to an Illinois state school without having to go back to their home state."

Some say it's a win-win for veterans and the state.

"That would help bring those students in. I think you'd get a lot more professional people within Illinois if they come to school here. They might just stay."

This wouldn't cost the state anything extra. The money comes from federal dollars. If this passes and more out-of-state veterans go to Illinois' schools, it would actually help our universities bring in more money.

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