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Military members move on average every four years. Because of this, military men and women, and their children, sometimes do not receive in-state tuition because of varying residence requirements at Illinois’ public universities.

I sponsored HB 5905 to try to address this problem and allow military members and their children to receive in-state tuition at public universities if they were stationed in Illinois for at least three years immediately prior to being reassigned out of state.

Illinois universities currently set their own residency requirements, which span from six months to one year. The public universities have been very accommodating in helping veterans or active-duty military members with their residency requirements. However, HB 5905 will help to apply some uniformity to this system beginning with the 2009-2010 academic year.

I was pleased, in passing this legislation, for it to receive the support of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS and the University of Illinois.

I was also pleased to vote yes on passing HB 479, a bill that demands the Governor include an annual funding recommendation in his budget to reimburse institutions of higher learning for administering the veterans’ tuition assistance programs. Although this bill passed the House 114-1, it was never released from the Senate Rules Committee.

A crucial issue with these assistance programs is that the universities are currently absorbing the costs of these programs, and it is high time the state fulfills its obligations, not only to the veterans and active-duty military that utilize these opportunities, but also to the institutions of higher learning that administer them.

As more military men and women return home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is our country’s duty to ensure that they receive a good education and opportunities to be successful in their chosen occupations. It will be the measure of our State’s character to fulfill that obligation to those who have served us so bravely, all the while ensuring that the cost of doing so is not shouldered only by our institutions of higher learning. iBi

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