Veteran in-state tution rates gets student support in Tallahassee Tuesday

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College students from across the state will gather in the Florida Capitol Tuesday in “unwavering support” for permitting military veterans to pay in-state tuition rates — proposed legislation called the “Congressman C.W. Bill Young Veteran Tuition Waiver Program.”

Student government representatives from University of Florida and Florida State University, joined by lawmakers and veterans, will hold a press conference today at 10 a.m. in front of the House chambers at the fourth-floor Capitol rotunda in Tallahassee.

Several bills launching the waiver program are currently up for consideration by the 2014 Florida Legislature: SB 84, sponsored by State Sen. Jack Latvala; HB 35, sponsored by State Reps. Kathleen Peters and Heather Fitzenhagen; and HB 7015, sponsored by Rep. Jimmie Smith. Each measure will allow honorably discharged military veterans and reservists to take advantage of in-state tuition costs while attending State University System schools.

“This legislation not only financially helps those who have served our country, but also enhances higher education institutions by attracting students with a skill set much different than a traditional high school graduate,” said UF Student Body President Christina Bonarrigo.

Twenty states have already passed similar legislation or policies.

 “When someone joins the military to ensure the freedoms and security that Americans are accustomed to, they are not representing just the one state in which they graduated high school, but rather all 50 states,” Bonarrigo added.

UF Vice President of Student Affairs and retired Army Reserve major general Dave Kratzer will be on hand to discuss the positive impact the legislation will have on the State University System.

Peters, Latvala, and Smith will also be at the event, as a show of support for the measure. 

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.