North Carolina is one of only eight states in the country where none of the state's schools offer in-state tuition or residency exemptions for veterans. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, the number of veterans living in the state is expected to balloon by as much as 60,000.
This presents an opportunity for the state to change course and join the rest of the country in training service members who have called North Carolina home while in the military, though are technically residents of the states from which they enlisted.
On Thursday, Governor Pat McCrory announced his next budget proposal will call for in-state tuition for veterans at North Carolina's community colleges.
"One of the biggest challenges facing veterans is the paper trail," said Assistant Secretary for the State Division of Veteran Affairs, Ilario Pantano. Though an individual may have been stationed at Fort Bragg or Camp Lejune long enough for the area to ostensibly become "home," because their state of record is elsewhere, they can't receive the benefits of non-enlisted NC residents.
"This issue, while it seemingly only applies to young veterans who are separating the service now, has been a bone of contention with veterans of every era," said Pantano. "[Veterans] recognize this as one more way that North Carolina had, historically, not been as veteran-friendly as other states."
A bill to provide in-state tuition to veterans was filed in the state senate last year, though is still listed as in-committee.
A spokesperson for the Governor said the new budget proposal will call for 1.8 million dollars to help support the initiative. The state has 58 community colleges. 24 other states offer in-state tuition for all schools (2- and 4-year colleges), while 9 states have at least some exemptions for veterans.