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.