As part of a larger effort to increase college accessibility, the U.S. House of Representatives is trying to lower higher education costs for military service members and their families.

Last week, the House passed by an overwhelming margin legislation updating the Higher Education Act of 1965. The Senate will meet to discuss its version of the bill next week before the bill returns to Congress for a vote.

One amendment to the bill would guarantee active-duty military service members and their families in-state tuition rates at any public college in their state of residence. To qualify, families must live in that particular state for 30 days. Forty-five states already offer in-state tuition rates to resident service members and their families, according to the Department of Defense’s website. Under the provision, a student would also qualify for the in-state rate if his family member in the military is relocated to another state. Thirty-three states already offer family members continued in-state rates if this happens.

The state of Michigan doesn’t offer either option, and last summer, College of Engineering junior Josh Guedesse found out the hard way.

“I got my award notice and I freaked out,” Guedesse said. “I was like, ‘Holy crap, I’m screwed. I can’t afford to go to Michigan. Out-of-state tuition is ridiculous.’ “

Guedesse, whose father is a warrant officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, was shocked to find that the University considered him an out-of-state student, even though he’d lived in Michigan for the past five years.

Last year, during Guedesse’s first year at Monroe County Community College, his father was transferred to Illinois. Guedesse purposely stayed behind and stayed in his own apartment in Michigan so he could transfer to the University of Michigan as an in-state resident.

Guedesse contacted the University after receiving his financial aid estimate. After being told by the Office of Financial Aid that he would be considered an out-of-state student, Guedesse talked to the Detroit Free Press about his experience.

Three days after the newspaper published an article on the situation and the University’s Alumni Association publicly supported Guedesse, the University decided to charge him in-state tuition, though he is still registered as an out-of-state student.

Since Guedesse’s troubles, the University has changed its policy on tuition rates for students with active-duty family members.

“The University had an opportunity to revisit the policy last year and determined that military families living in Michigan would be better served by this change,” University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said.

Now all active-duty service members and family members living in Michigan can attend the University at the in-state rate.

Students will continue to receive the in-state rate even if their parent or spouse is reassigned, Cunningham said.

“The University is sympathetic to the unique circumstances of military,” Cunningham said.

The new policy is in line with the amendment in the bill before Congress. The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.) and Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Tex.), was overwhelmingly approved by a voice vote last week.

“Our country’s service members are making the ultimate sacrifice for us,” Boyda said in a discussion on the House floor last week. “The very last thing a soldier needs to worry about while navigating the streets of Baghdad is whether his or her child can pay for college.”

Additionally, the bill authorizes the Department of Education to award grants to colleges that set up offices to address the “academic, financial, physical, and social needs” of student veterans.

The legislation does not specify how much money should be spent to establish these programs, but lists 15 services participating universities must provide to student veterans, including admissions, financial aid and advising support programs for students.

The University already provides these services. In November, the Council for Student Veterans was formed in a joint effort of the Provost’s Office and the Office of New Student Programs to address the concerns of student veterans.

The Office of New Student Programs and the Office of the Provost will finance the council’s projects, including a new student veterans’ liaison position. Ann Hower, director of the Office of New Student Programs, said the program would cost about $70,000 initially.

The renewal bill also includes a provision that would fund federal scholarships for the children and spouses of active duty service members and the children and spouses of service members who were killed or injured while serving after Sept. 11, 2001.

Students who qualify for the scholarships will receive up to $5,000 for tuition, room and board and fees.

“It’s one thing states can do to accommodate military personnel and show that they appreciate the sacrifices people make,” Guedesse said of the legislation. “It’s not hard for the states to do, but it’s very helpful for the people who need it.”

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