BANGOR, Maine — The University of Maine System may begin offering in-state tuition rates to all out-of-state veterans who enroll in one of the system’s seven campuses.
The executive committee of UMS’s board of trustees will vote on whether to adopt this new policy on Friday. If the measure passes, the rate some out-of-state veterans pay per credit hour will decrease by about a third to the in-state rate. At the University of Maine at Orono, for example, the in-state tuition fee is $8,370 per year, while the out-of-state fee is $25,740. At the University of Southern Maine, Maine residents pay $7,590 per year, while out-of-state residents pay $19,950.
Twenty states already offer in-state tuition to out-of-state veterans and 12 states have legislation pending, according to Student Veterans of America, a group that advocates for the postsecondary education of veterans.
A bill that would require all colleges across the country that are eligible for GI Bill benefits to give veterans in-state tuition rates no matter what state they live in passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 3, according to the Washington Post. The bill, which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud last year, must still be passed by the Senate and signed by the president before it becomes law.
A separate bill has been proposed in the Maine House of Representatives that would require a change that is almost identical to the measure the UMS is considering. If this bill passes, not only the UMS, but also the Maine Community College System and Maine Maritime Academy will be required to offer in-state tuition to all veterans. The bill is scheduled to have a public hearing on March 3.
“We’ll be there and we’ll testify strongly in support and hopefully notify them that we already have this policy in place,” said Ryan Low, executive director of executive and legislative affairs at the UMS.
Veterans who receive GI Bill benefits already received in-state tuition at Maine’s public higher education institutions. The proposed bill and the proposed measure at UMS would extend that benefit to all honorably discharged veterans.
There are 19 veterans who are currently enrolled at UMS campuses and are paying the out-of-state rate. If they were paying in-state fees, the system would see a reduction in revenue of about $200,000, according to the agenda for UMS’s executive committee meeting.
That loss is worth it to members of UMS’s finance, facility and technology committee, who voted unanimously to forward the action to the board of trustees.
“I think this is a wonderful opportunity for the system,” UMS trustee Gregory Johnson told the committee.