Should illegal immigrants pay lower tuition than our own military veterans?
Read more: University of North Carolina denies Iraq vet in-state tuition as it mulls giving break to illegals | Fox NewsThe University of North Carolina, which is currently considering giving illegal immigrants in-state tuition benefits, denied an Army sergeant the same break even though she owns a home in the Tar Heel state and only moved away briefly because the military stationed her husband in Texas.
Hayleigh Perez, 26, hoped to use her G.I. Bill to attend the UNC?s Pembroke campus near Fort Bragg, but the young veteran ? who served a 14-month tour in Iraq ? was told she did not qualify as a state resident because she had been gone for about three years.
?I got frustrated. When I tried to inquire, they kept putting up roadblocks,? Perez told FoxNews.com. ?It?s just disgraceful that life in Iraq, where you could die, is easier than trying to go to school here.?
Perez enlisted in 2005, and was stationed in Fort Bragg before shipping out to Camp Bucca in Iraq. That's where she met her husband and fellow soldier, Jose Perez-Rodriguez. The pair married and, when their tours ended in 2006, bought their home in Raeford, N.C. They lived there until 2009, when Jose Perez-Rodriguez was assigned to a base in Texas. But they continued paying the mortgage and taxes on the North Carolina property while she accompanied him on his deployment for six months, and Perez has been in North Carolina for the past two years, she said.
Perez was honorably discharged in September 2009, and, after giving birth to daughter Calleigh, and sought to build a post-military career. When her husband won a transfer back to Fort Bragg to rejoin his family, Perez started applying to colleges in the area in hopes of pursuing a master's degree as a physician's assistant. She told FoxNews.com she was accepted to both UNC?s Fayetteville and Pembroke branches and chose Pembroke. But Perez was shocked when UNC-Pembroke officials told her she was not considered an in-state resident, even though the Fayetteville branch said she was. The G.I. Bill Perez hoped to use for school does not cover out-of-state tuition.
"I just figured I could appeal the decision," Perez said. "I thought it would be easy.?
But Perez said the appeal process consisted of appearing before a 15-member panel at the school's vice chancellor?s office, where her request was denied. She said she later learned that the denial was based on the fact that she had not paid income tax in North Carolina in the years in which she was in Iraq and Texas.
?The process was demeaning. They [Pembroke] treated me so poorly I felt like I was a criminal on trial,? she said. ?They told me I couldn?t reapply.?
Sgt. Jason Thigpen, founder and president of the Student Veterans Advocacy Group, which is helping Perez make an appeal to the school, said nearly 250,000 other student veterans nationwide have been forced to pay out-of-pocket while using their G.I. Bill due to "adverse and short-sighted changes our federal government made.?
Adding insult to injury, says Thigpen, is the fact the UNC is currently considering granting in-state tuition benefits to illegal immigrants at all 16 of its branches, including Pembroke.
?In North Carolina alone there are more than 5,000 student veterans facing such hardship, while the state [may grant] in-state residency for tuition purposes to illegal immigrants," he said. "That's not the deal we signed up for when joining the military, and surely isn't what was intended in the 1940s when [the G.I. Bill program] began,? he added.
Officials from the university did not immediately return a request for comment on Tuesday as they were scheduled to meet with Perez.
Perez, who started an Internet petition that has garnered support from across the country with nearly 120,000 signatures in just five days, and the Students Veterans Advocacy group intend to sue both the school and the federal government if the school's decision is not reversed.
?It?s so much larger. This isn?t just about me. It?s for every veteran hitting these roadblocks,? Perez said.
No matter what happens, Perez said she won't be attending UNC-Pembroke.
"I?m now attending a private college," she said, declining to name the school. "I don?t want to be associated with an institution that treats veterans this way.?
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I'm not sure what the connection is to illegal immigrants. She has a legitimate issue but it has nothing to do with illegal immigrants or some policy that may be under consideration.
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What's the problem? If she doesn't qualify as a state resident, then she doesn't deserve the in-state tuition rate, veteran or not. I have no problem with illegal immigrants getting the in-state tuition rate if they can prove residency to the same extent as everyone else. Simply living in the state doesn't establish legal residency. They look at all kinds of things, which state you files your taxes in, which state your car is registered in, which state issued your driver's license, where you bank, etc. I find it hard to believe that the only reason is because she didn't pay state income taxes between 3 & 5 years ago; there surely must be more evidence against her than that.
In California active military personnel who are stationed in California can qualify for an in-state tuition waiver for the one-year period it takes to establish legal residency, and returning military personnel can qualify for in-state tuition if they were a legal CA resident before their military service and return to CA immediately upon discharge. If you don't establish or re-establish legal CA residency within one year, then you are liable for the difference betweeen in-state and out-of-state tuition. Perhaps NC needs to adopt a similar guideline.
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Can someone help me with something so I can clarify a response. How does an illegal resident declare legal in state residency?
I think it depends on the school though (like in CO, it is not a statewide policy, it is up to the school to decide.) The reason I think this is that Metro only just recently started offering reduced rate tutition to illegal immigrants, and it is a big controversy. As per usual, Tom Tancredo and his bunch are all up in arms because like 100 kids who were brought to this country as minors are actually able to afford to get an education per the college's decision. The nerve of that college, thinking they can make their own policies about their own pricing!
ETA: Here is an article about it:
Per the article, here are the full qualifications, and I guess it is still more expensive than true in-state tution, but a lot less than traditional out of state tuition:
Not that I can see the connection between this vet and this lowered tuition for illegal immigrants, but as a Coloradoan I think this policy is a great thing. It helps kids who are here through no fault of their own, encourages them to get "legal" and helps them to get an education to become productive members of society. I'm liking what they're laying down. Tom Tancredo is a tool.In June, the college's board of trustees voted to lower the out-of-state $7,992 per semester tuition rate to $3,358.30 per semester for undocumented, Colorado-educated students. In order to qualify, an undocumented student had to have attended an in-state high school for at least three years, have graduated from a Colorado high school or received a G.E.D., be in good legal standing aside from their undocumented status and prove that they plan to seek lawful status. In-state students currently pay $2,152 per semester.
Last edited by Alissa_Sal; 10-16-2012 at 05:20 PM.
I think she's full of crap, but it's also crap that they'd expect her to pay out of state tuition if other's who have no right to attend the college in the first place get in state tuition. I would bet she changed her legal residency to Texas since most military members stationed there do it (*since you don't pay income taxes) and now she wants the best of both worlds. Not cool and not cool to pretend like they don't warn you about that when you are changing your state of residency.
It's another debate but I think it's bull**** that illegal immigrants get in state tuition in the first place. I would bet they get grant and scholarship money too. Ridiculous.
eta-*If I got out right now, I'd be a Mississippi Resident and would have to pay MS income taxes because that's where we live and my husbands home of record and residency are North Carolina. If we moved to Texas, he'd have to change his residency to Texas for me to get to keep my Texas status when we moved out. My income and his wouldn't be taxed, but the next state we moved to we'd lose out on in-state tuition unless they specifically had a clause for active duty or dependants.
I have a feeling they are both Texas "residents" and haven't had to pay Norht Carolina state taxes in forever (they are freaking *RIDICULOUS* so I understand not wanting to).
Last edited by wlillie; 10-16-2012 at 05:29 PM.
I think there must be more to it. If her husband is stationed there now, there shouldn't have been a problem.
When XDH was in the military, his home of record was MO. Although I had never lived in MO, i was considered a resisdentfor in-state tuition purposes when he was discharged.In-State Tuition
Spouses of service members on active duty for a period of more than 30 days are now eligible to receive in-state tuition at public colleges and universities in the state where they reside or are permanently stationed. Once a spouse is enrolled and paying in-state tuition, they will continue to pay the in-state tuition rate as long as they remain continuously enrolled at the institution, even if the service member is reassigned outside the state.
This change in federal law is a tremendous help to military spouses, who often face paying out-of-state tuition rates to further their education. The new requirement benefiting military spouses was included in the Higher Education Opportunity Act (H.R. 4137), under section 135, and was signed into law on August 14, 2008. This new law extends the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), and applies to all public institutions that receive funds under the HEA program.*
The Department of Education has worked with the institutions of higher education and is confident they are aware of the changes in the law and are fully implementing the policy.* However, if military spouses have any difficulties establishing in-state tuition status, they should contact the offices of financial aid, registrar, or Veterans Affairs at the institution. If these steps do not resolve the situation, military spouses should contact the Department of Education’s Ombudsman’s office (toll-free at 877-557-2575) or fill out an online Ombudsman Assistance Request Form at: Getting Prepared Before Seeking Help | Federal Student Aid.
I'm saying I think they are both "Texas" residents. You don't have to give it up when you move. They probably didn't want to pay North Carolina Income taxes. I don't know why you were considered a resident of MO for resident purposes but that was nice of them.