Banks files bill to give returning military affordable college ed

State Sen. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) has filed legislation to help returning military veterans obtain a more affordable college degree.

Senate Bill 177 would allow qualified veterans to be eligible for resident tuition rates upon enrolling in a state educational institution. Applicants would qualify regardless of whether they have lived in Indiana long enough to meet the school's residency requirements.

"All too often, veterans find themselves at a financial disadvantage in paying for college because the nature of their service has left them ineligible for in-state tuition," Banks said. "This can prevent them from finding long-term employment, developing secure finances or pursuing their life goals. I want to help change that."

To qualify for Banks' proposed tuition benefit, veterans would be required to enroll in a state college or university no later than 12 months after their discharge or separation from the armed forces.

They would also be required to meet at least one of the following criteria within 12 months of enrollment:

• Apply to vote in Indiana.

• Obtain a driver's license or state identification card.

• Register their motor vehicles in the state.

• Provide proof of employment in Indiana.

"We owe so much to the men and women who have fought to protect our freedom," Banks said. "Helping them attain further education is a simple act we can do to show our gratitude for their sacrifices. I am hopeful this legislation will allow more veterans to establish secure lives and bright futures back home."