By Jeff Barnes, director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency
The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency applauds the University of Michigan Regents for their decision to grant in-state tuition to anyone who serves in the military or was honorably discharged, regardless of the student?s state of origin. Offering military members and veterans from across the nation the ability to attend the University of Michigan at in-state tuition rates will help both the university and our state attract the talent Michigan needs to build a thriving economy.
Over the next five years, analysts estimate approximately 10,000 to 15,000 veterans will move to Michigan annually as a result of force restructuring that will downsize the military?s active duty component. Many of these veterans will enroll in higher education, largely thanks to the benefits available to them through the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
For the veteran, this decision will remove an obstacle to pursuing their education at the University of Michigan. Though most veterans and service members that have served in Iraq and Afghanistan qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, it does not always fully cover the student?s tuition. This is where other funding sources such as the Yellow Ribbon program, scholarships and personal finances are leveraged. It also makes it easier for a veteran to establish residency following their military service. Overseas deployments, permanent changes in duty station and other requirements of military life can make it difficult for veterans and their families to establish residency in any state.
For the state, this decision allows Michigan to be more competitive as a destination for top quality talent that has demonstrated their ability to lead, adapt and problem solve in some of the most extreme circumstances known. Veterans bring with them job-ready skills, proven leadership, a strong work ethic and a fierce sense of loyalty. Unafraid of new challenges, these men and women have demonstrated that they can work in diverse and unpredictable environments, cooperate as team players and shift gears at a moment?s notice. These skills and traits are exactly what Michigan needs to succeed in tomorrow?s economy.
In today?s mobile society, states that attract the best talent will thrive. By offering in-state tuition for those men and women who have served our nation, the University of Michigan is putting out the welcome mat to this group of talented, hardworking and dedicated individuals, and the entire state stands to benefit from their efforts.?
Jeff Barnes is the director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and an Army veteran. He graduated from the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.