University to help fund incoming veterans’ tuition

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    The university intends to honor the commitment made by the veterans who have served the country by pledging to participate in the Yellow Ribbon program, which would fund tuition for incoming veterans, Chancellor Victor Boschini said.

    Boschini said agreeing to participate in the program seemed like the right thing for the university to do to help veterans. He said the university looks for opportunities to help bring students with a diversity of experiences to campus and he hopes the Yellow Ribbon program will accomplish that goal.

    Mike Scott, director of scholarships and financial aid, said incoming veterans who choose to apply to the university will be eligible to receive maximum funding for their tuition under the Yellow Ribbon program, which seeks to fund veterans’ tuition at private universities that decide to participate.

    TCU’s estimated tuition cost for the 2008-2009 school year: $26,900
    University of Texas at Austin’s tuition cost for the 2008-2009 school year: $8,532
    Amount TCU will waive from tuition cost: $9,184

    According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Web site, the program is an addition to the GI Bill, which provides educational benefits to veterans, and will completely cover tuition for veterans who meet the criteria set forth in the bill.

    According to the current proposal, only veterans, reservists, guard members and active-duty service members who were previously entitled to 100 percent educational benefits under the post-Sept. 11 GI Bill will be able to receive funding.

    According to the department, tuition will be funded by both the VA and the participating university. The VA will cover tuition at the participating university up to the cost of tuition at the most expensive in-state public university. Up to half of the difference can be optionally waived by the private university, and the VA will match the amount the university contributed.

    Scott said the university decided to fully participate in late January. He said that once the in-state tuition amount has been deducted from tuition, the university will waive 50 percent of the difference, the maximum allowed under the program.

    Other private universities in Texas have yet to make their final decisions.

    Lori Fogleman, director of media communications at Baylor University, said Baylor’s participation is still being discussed and that Baylor is awaiting further details about the program before agreeing to participate.

    Sean Smith, director of financial aid at Trinity University, said Trinity has not agreed to or discussed participation in the program yet.

    Scott said that while other campuses may be hesitant to participate because of the included costs, the university is fortunate to have enough funds and quickly made the decision to participate despite the recent budget cuts.

    “Financially, this is a great investment for the university,” Scott said. “A relatively small amount will be spent to bring students with unique perspectives and experiences to campus.”

    Suzanne Weldon, university veteran affairs officer, said there are about 72 veterans currently enrolled at TCU.

    Scott said that once the details are finalized, the university could enroll up to 50 eligible veterans as early as next semester.

    The GI Bill is set to go into effect in August.

    Scott said the university will allocate the necessary money for the program once the details are finalized in August. He said participating in the program will have no impact on the amount of funds available to other students receiving scholarships and financial aid.