Senate committee discusses funding for veteran education benefits
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The Hazelwood Act has helped qualified veterans attend college since World War I, but with an increasing number of veterans enrolling in the program, many universities are saying it's overwhelming their bottom line.
The State Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and Military Installations heard testimony about the program Wednesday.
"The University of Texas system is a leader in services to veterans and their families and we want them on our campuses," Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa with U.T. said.
But they'd like some help from the state to keep them on their campuses.
"Obviously we would like to see, as I'm sure all the chancellors would, some sort of funding for the program," Cigarroa said.
The Hazelwood Act grants qualified veterans—those who were honorably discharged, and in some cases their families—with up to 150 hours of free tuition.
"The only reason I'm able to return to school is because of these Hazelwood benefits and the legacy program," student Amy Yoder said.
An increased use of the program has been a trend for many Texas collages.
"We grew in 2009 about $2.2 million in exemptions system wide to an estimated $22.5 million this year,” Texas State University Chancellor Brian McCall said.
And that to offset the costs, education leaders said they’ve had to make some tuition hikes.
"At Texas State, we recently increased tuition by about $400 per full-time student—about half of that now is used for the Hazelwood Act," McCall said.
The chancellors who testified said they'd like to work with the state to come up with a compromise to make the Hazelwood Act a viable program for those who use it—both the state as well as the colleges who are footing the bill.