Veterans and their families would be able to move to Washington after they leave the armed forces and immediately enroll in college at subsidized in-state tuition rates under a measure that was approved in the House Higher Education Committee today.
Right now, they have to wait a year for that status.
The proposal by Democratic Rep. Sherry Appleton of Poulsbo narrowly survived an effort to scale it back by Seattle Democrat Jamie Pedersen and several Republicans, who called for requiring some military service in Washington or previous residency as part of eligibility. The committee voted 10-8 to keep the measure in its original form.
Pedersen then voted against the bill out of concern about “our ongoing budget difficulties and the scarcity of dollars.” The Evergreen State College and community colleges estimated they will forego a combined $740,000 in tuition revenue every two-year budget cycle if the bill passes. That’s in addition to unknown costs for other colleges, which have been steadily raising tuition.
But the measure was approved 17-1. “I think we have a moral obligation to help these people who are among the tiny fraction of people who have been serving our country, most of them in combat zones,” said Gig Harbor Democrat Larry Seaquist, a retired Navy captain and the committee’s chairman.