Reps. Hughes, Opsommer, Sen. Jones host press conference to offer in-state tuition to veterans

Reps. Hughes, Opsommer, Sen. Jones host press conference to offer in-state tuition to veterans

State Reps. Holly Hughes and Paul Opsommer, along with state Sen. Rick Jones today hosted a press conference to discuss legislative measures that would require Michigan’s public universities and community colleges to consider enrolling veterans as residents of the state of Michigan when determining tuition rates.

House Joint Resolutions JJ and MM would require public universities and community colleges to consider honorably discharged and active duty veterans in-state students when establishing a tuition rate.

“Michigan needs to do more to welcome home our veterans, and this is a huge step in that direction,” said Hughes, R-Montague. “Making Michigan veteran-friendly is vital to our state and to our families who sacrifice time and resources to send their loved ones off to serve our country. If we provide a way for veterans to receive affordable, quality educations in our state, everyone will benefit from that.”

Past legislatures have taken up the issue before.

Opsommer, R-DeWitt, addressed why immediate action is needed on both resolutions: "I introduced two pieces of legislation in 2007 similar to these bills. At the time, we were assured by the universities and community colleges that policies were going to be put into place. Now that the schools didn’t follow through on those assurances, this legislation is needed to support the veterans in Michigan.”

Said Sen. Jones, R-Grand Ledge: “This Memorial Day, as we reflect on those who made the ultimate sacrifice, we must remember our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who need to find work when they return home. Public universities and community colleges must consider veterans as state citizens when deciding their tuition rate. Anything else would be un-American.”

Hughes also spoke to the unemployment rate among Michigan veterans.

“We have 29 percent unemployment for Michigan veterans, which is two and a half times the national average. Texas offers free tuition. Minnesota has over 300,000 veterans with over 15,000 attending college. Michigan has over 700,000 veterans eligible and only around 13,000 attending college. I think Michigan can do better in helping our veterans improve their education and skills they need for jobs to support their families,” Hughes said.

HJRs JJ and MM are currently under consideration by the House Education Committee.