Texas Iraq Vet Denied In-state Tuition

Fox News reported that an Iraq War veteran from Texas has been denied in-state tuition at Austin Community College because he was out of state too long–in Iraq. Actually, though, there’s more to the story.

Texan who fought in Iraq denied in-state tuition (Houston Chronicle – AP)

A decorated Marine enrolling in college was surprised to learn his Texas driver’s license, car registration and bank records weren’t enough to qualify him for the lower-priced state resident tuition. Carl Basham said officials at Austin Community College told him that his two tours of duty in Iraq kept him out of the state too long to qualify for Texas resident tuition.

Privacy laws prevent college officials from specifically discussing Basham’s case, but Austin Community College spokesman Dwayne Cox said it’s not Basham’s military tours that keep him from meeting in-state residence requirements. Under Texas law, members of the military are presumed to maintain the same residence as when they enlisted in the service. Although he grew up throughout Texas, mostly in Waco, Basham graduated from high school and enlisted in the Marine Corps in Monroe, La.

The school’s response surprised Basham, 27, who was born in Beeville, is registered to vote in Travis County and does his banking in Austin.

So, Basham was not actually a Texas resident. It might be a nice gesture for ACC to offer Basham the in-state rate but it certainly is under no obligation to do so. I am sure, however, that Louisiana would gladly extend him in-state tuition rates.

A surprising number of service members have “homes of record” in Texas, Florida, Ohio, Tennessee, and a handful of other states. It’s not so much that those states are unusually patriotic–although some of them are–but rather that they either do not have a state income tax or they do not levy state income taxes on military personnel serving outside the state. For those states to offer in-state tuition rates to people “returning” to the state who were not state taxpayers immediately prior to entering the military would be expensive indeed.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Stan says:

    college president’s email


  2. Bachbone says:

    And then we have states who want to give illegals in-state tuition rates. Living in the USA gets crazier and crazier. The inmates are not far away from running all the asylums.

  3. mhuss says:

    Roughly from memory as an ex-Texas Resident Serviceman, there are three criteria that are required for him to qualify for resident tuition. Assuming that he was a legal resident of La. At the time of enlistment, he can become a legal resident of Texas if he is stationed in Texas for at least twelve months and if, during that time, he files the proper paperwork with the Military that he is changing his legal residence to Texas. He also has to register to vote in a county in Texas, and keep that registration current (or prove that he has never registered anywhere else in the interim). He also has to have a bank account in Texas. He can have bank accounts elsewhere, but must keep the Texas Bank account alive. (there are alternate qualifiers, but I don’t remember them.) Assuming that he did the latter two, it is a matter of determining if he was stationed in Texas long enough, or was registered as a resident long enough. If he meets these three criteria, he qualifies for in-state tuition, and it is just a matter of presenting the proper documents from the county and his DD314. It gets a bit iffy if he does not keep his voter registration current, but that usually requires only a sworn avadavat from a Justice of the Peace. There is a list of qualifiers available that will substitute for the above, but I am too lazy to chase it down. Probably, this is just a misunderstanding of the law by a registrar clerk. They are used to having students that have lived in the state for five years. It is a bit hard to accept that one could not step foot in Texas for thirty years, yet be a continuous resident that entire time. Presenting the proper documentation to the Registrar will clear it up.

  4. dougrc says:

    It is sad and ironic that Texas is one of 8 states that currently offer in-state tuition to illegal aliens. If he would have just renounced his citizenship while he was in Iraq and snuck across the border, he would have it made!

  5. Richard Gardner says:

    As a slight clarification, the military state residency requires the service member to be PCS (Permanent Change of Station) to the state, so at least 180 days (not 6 months), not the year stated above.

    Service members are permitted to change their state of residence anytime during their career, so long as they are stationed and living in/near the state in question (with the obvious inclusions for bases near state borders – for example, if you at stationed at the Pentagon in Virginia, you may change your residency to VA, MD, or DC for example (but you have to live in the appropriate location). If you are stationed at the Pentagon, you can’t change your residency to, say, Oregon.

    These rules also apply to the USCG, USPHS and NOAA. This was an issue in the Washington State elections, when a self-appointed election-fraud finder inappropriately went after a USPHS Officer at the CDC. Of course it was for tax convenience, but it is totaly legal by the servicemember.

    In this case, the ex-service member was never stationed in Texas, so he could not legally change his residency to TX from LA (There are no Marine Bases in TX). Legally, the community college was correct.

    The article is also in error stating that service members can’t change their state of residency after enlistment. There were some court cases in ~1980 with Utah over this.

    On a bigger scale, this military change of residency to low/no tax states also helps these states gain Congressional representatives, as a soldier with a legal residence of, say, Florida, gets counted in the Census for congressional representation as in Florida, regardless of his/her actual location.

  6. Ted says:

    I think you are making a mistake by saying that a ‘surprising number of service members have “homes of record”‘ in income-tax free states.

    The service members most likely have RESIDENCY in these states, not homes of record. The home of record refers to the state the person resided in at the time they enlisted/were commissioned in the military.

    While in the military, the service member can change change their state of residency many times (though once they land in an income-tax free state, they aren’t likely to do so again), but their home of record is constant. The military uses this home of record to determine the travel/moving expenses that will be paid when the member separates from the service.

    And apparently Texas uses the home of record to determine qualification for in-state tuition.

  7. Ted says:

    From The University of Texas Residency FAQ it looks like this story is misrepresenting the facts.

    Q. I am currently active duty military. How can I have my out of state tuition waived so I can pay in-state tuition?
    A. Active duty military (including active reserves and National Guard) may have their out of state tuition waived to in state tuition. A person must submit a letter from their commanding officer on military letter head with the student’s name and social security on the letter, stating that he or she is active duty. Active duty must be with a Texas Unit. A new letter must be submitted every semester at least two weeks prior to registration. The student will remain classified as non-resident on the mainframe database and for admission purposes but will be eligible to pay in-state tuition.

    So even if he weren’t a Texas resident, he would be eligible for in-state tuition with a letter from his commander.

  8. James Joyner says:

    Ted: No. Read your own quote: “Active duty must be with a Texas Unit.” They’re rather clearly talking about the National Guard.

    Also, if you read the one right after your quote at the same link, you get the whole truth:

    Q. I am a member of the military. What are the general rules that constitute me as a resident?
    A. Establishment of a domicile in Texas requires twelve consecutive months physical presence in the state. The military member must simultaneously file a copy of the DD2058 used to change state of legal residence to Texas and additional appropriate documentation to change his or her military records to reflect Texas as the state of legal residency. If FOUR of the listed items below items have been completed at least 12 consecutive months immediately prior to the date of enrollment and continue to be in effect, the member has established a domicile in Texas unless he or she continues to vote and register his or her will in the same state other than Texas:

    * Purchasing a residence and claiming it as a homestead
    * Registering to vote and voting in local elections
    * Registering automobiles in Texas and paying personal property taxes therein.
    * Maintaining a Texas Driver’s License
    * Maintaining checking accounts, saving accounts, or safe deposit boxes in Texas.
    * Having wills or other legal documents that indicate residence in Texas.
    * Having membership in professional organizations or other state organizations
    * Establishing a business in Texas

  9. LJD says:

    Four of the items completed in the 12 consecutive months prior… I guess you have to LIVE there for a year, like in any other state. Clearly there should be some review and exception process for military members.

    As a NH resident, I served in Colorado. I maintained voter registration, and a NH driver’s license. I was forced to change my vehicle plates after they expired. I did my banking with a service member’s credit union. All of my military records specified NH as my home state (not included in the list above) Under this rule, I would not qualify for in-state tuition.

    The worst part was the treatment I received. I don’t know if she was an anti-war nut, or a just a B… When I returned to NH, I went to City Hall to register my vehicle. All I got was a ration of crap and a bad attitude from the clerk. It was really quite a homecoming. I wasn’t trying to “get away” with anything, but I was sure treated like I was.

  10. Anderson says:

    Whatever the rules, I think Congress should require every public university receiving federal funds to treat any recent serviceman (serviceperson?) as a “resident” for tuition purposes.

    These soldiers are going to war on behalf of the whole nation and should be appreciated as such.

  11. Sneem says:

    For the record. Your “Home Of Record” is the place you lived when you entered service. It can never be changed on your military records. Your legal residence is the place you call home. In the military you can change your legal residence if you meet the necessary criteria and actually live there. When you leave active service, the military will pay your travel back to your home of record. You entered there. They pay to send you back. It makes no difference where your legal residence is at the time. This soldier has an arguement with the state of Texas as to wether he is a resident. As far as the military is concerned, his home of record is Louisiana. Was then. Always will be.

  12. Mcgill says:

    The importance of education is quite clear. Education is the knowledge of putting one’s potentials to maximum use. One can safely say that a human being is not in the proper sense till he is educated.

  13. Annette Schubert says:

    My son was denied in-state tuition rates in Florida as well. In 1999, when he enlisted in the Navy, he was living with his father in New Jersey. His father subsequently moved to Georgia. Joe moved to Florida in November 2003 when he got out of the Navy. He wanted to be near me and his brother and sister. He was not eligible to start school as an in-state resident until January 2005; he was no longer considered a resident of New Jersey for tuition purposes there either. Due to his admission testing, he enrolled in a few prep classes at the community college during the Summer, so that he would be able to start college January 2005, otherwise he would not be able to start school until January 2006. The school charged him more than $3700 for these classes at a rate of more than 3 X what the in-state tuition is. These classes are not even credited toward his degree. When he realized how much it would be for the tuition, because he was only eligible for the minimum amount from his GI Bill because it was Summer enrollment, he wanted to make payments; the school would not let him make payments. He was informed that he could not start school until the tuition was paid, they actually threatened to sue him. I had to cash-in my 16 year-old daughter’s prepaid tuition, to assist him in paying the school, so that he could actually begin taking classes this year. My daughter no longer has the Florida College Prepaid Tuition, as I have not been able to pay this money back. Not one person at the college would help, or at the least, guide my son toward an entity that might assist him with this tuition; they just said it’s the law. No one from the state education board would discuss any options either, they said it was up to the school to waive the tuition.