By Richard Locker,
February 25, 2014

NASHVILLE — Military veterans could attend Tennessee’s public colleges and universities at in-state tuition rates if a bill that won approval by the state Senate Monday night wins House approval as expected.

The Veterans Education Transition Support Act, or “Tennessee VETS ACT,” would allow a former member of the U.S. armed forces, a former or current member of a reserve or a Tennessee National Guard unit called into active U.S. military service to pay in-state tuition provided they have not been dishonorably discharged, are eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill or Montgomery GI Bill benefits and enroll with 24 months after discharge. It passed the Senate 30-0.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, said that under current law, unless the veterans are Tennessee residents, they must be in the state for at least a year to establish residency for in-state tuition. He said the University of Memphis, Austin Peay State University and other schools have created programs to help veterans reacclimate and attend college after their service.

The bill requires the veteran to maintain continuous enrollment and, within a year of enrolling, to demonstrate intent to be a resident of the state by obtaining at least two of the following: a Tennessee driver’s license, Tennessee motor vehicle registration, proof of employment in the state, or other documentation clearly evidencing residence in the state.

The bill also designates colleges and universities that establish support networks for veterans as VETS campuses

The House version of the bill is set for review Tuesday in the House Education Committee.

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