Oklahoma’s one-hundred percent disabled veterans who have been injured in the line of duty and their families along with the families of those veterans killed-in-action since September 11, 2001, may have the opportunity to further their education under legislation unanimously approved by the Senate Tuesday. Senate Bill 1223, by Sen. Frank Simpson, also known as the 9/11 G.I. Bill, would provide these veterans, their spouses, widows and children with free tuition to any Oklahoma technology center, college or university.
“These brave heroes made a tremendous sacrifice fighting for our country. The least we can do is provide them the opportunity to further their education in order to find new employment since they can no longer serve in the military,” said Simpson, R-Ardmore. “It’s also important for us to help their spouses as many times they become the family’s main provider and the responsibility of paying most of the bills falls to them. In the case of those who lost their spouses in combat, they become the soul providers for their families and just as their spouse gave their all for their country, we should do all we can to ensure they can properly provide for their family.”
The children of 100 percent disabled veterans as well as those killed-in-action or killed in the line of duty during Iraqi Freedom or Afghanistan Enduring Freedom would also get their tuition and fees paid for as long as they enrolled before turning 21 and completed their schooling before reaching the age of 26. Those students who are eligible for federal education benefits must exhaust all available federal assistance before applying for the 9/11 G.I. Program. Any tuition and fees owed after the federal benefits are exhausted will be waived by the state career and technology center school or institution of higher education.
The bill also clarifies that any veteran will be eligible for in-state status when applying to a state career and technology center school, college or university regardless of his or her residency as long as he or she is eligible for benefits under the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable from the military.
SB 1223 now moves to the House for further consideration.