(davwi.org) - During the last day of budget deliberations last week, the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance approved a 10-page motion that included a powerful affirmation of the Wisconsin G.I. Bill tuition remission and an expansion for WisGIBill-eligible students in the UW System.
The committee affirmed the Governor’s budget proposal to fully and retroactively restore the WisGIBill to its original intent, a top priority for DAV and other veterans service organizations.
The committee further strengthened and clarified the Governor’s language to ensure veterans get the full amount of remission they are due from the state, that their WisGIBill benefits are only reduced by a pro-rated partial amount in the event their federal benefits only cover a partial amount of the total tuition and fees due, and to ensure that UW campuses are able to get the full amount of federal payments they may be due under the provisions of the federal Chapter 33 Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.
Finally, the committee included a requirement that the UW System remit the full amount of tuition and fees charged for any degree credit course, including distance education courses, online course, and cost recovery courses, to all eligible veterans, children, and spouses.
Following implementation of the WisGIBill, the UW System developed policies to prevent the WisGIBill from applying to these courses, leaving veterans taking online courses footing the entire bill for each online, distance, and “cost recovery” course. Earlier this year, DAV had alerted key legislators and staff including in the Governor’s office of this troubling issue.
The Wisconsin Technical College System never adopted similar restrictive measures, and the WisGIBill has always been able to be used for online, distance, and similar type courses at Wisconsin’s technical college campuses.
Last week’s committee action, if adopted by the full legislature, would provide important restorations of the WisGIBill to its full original intent fully consistent with DAV’s legislative goals.
Require the Board of Regents, each technical college district board, and the proposed UW-Madison Board of Trustees to grant a full remission of resident tuition and segregated fees for 128 credits or eight semesters, whichever is longer, but not less the amount of any tuition or segregated fees paid under the federal Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, to certain veterans, children, and spouses. Specify that this provision would take effect retroactively on January 1, 2010, and would first apply to students who enrolled in the spring, 2010, semester.
Adopt Alternative #A2 of LFB Budget Paper #749 which would modify the Governor’s recommended statutory language to clarify legislative intent. Specify that: (a) the Board of Regents and the technical colleges could continue to receive payments under the federal Post-9/11 G.I. Bill; (b) credits or semesters for which the amount paid under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill covered 100% of resident tuition and fees would not be counted against the 128 credit or eight semester limit; and (c) in the case that the amount paid under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill covered less than 100% of resident tuition and fees, the proportion of tuition and fees that were remitted by the institution would be counted against the 128 credit or 8 semester limit.
In addition, specify that the Board of Regents should remit the full amount of tuition and fees charged for any degree credit course, including distance education courses, online course, and cost recovery courses, to eligible veterans, children, and spouses. Consistent with current law, specify that the amount remitted should be reduced by the amount paid under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and certain other federal education programs.
- Joint Finance Omnibus Motion, University of Wisconsin System
- LFB Budget Paper #749
- Wisconsin G.I. Bill tuition remission program
--Anthony Hardie, Madison, Wis.