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Article of Interest - Michigan

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Free College Tuition for Children of Veterans
MIRS, November 10, 2005
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House Democrats today highlighted proposed legislation that gives the children of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan or children of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty free college tuition.

Children of veterans disabled in the last two wars would receive a significant discount on their tuition. Children of veterans for Iraq and Afghanistan would get $2,500 off their tuition.

House Minority Leader Dianne BYRUM (D-Onondaga), flanked by six of her Democratic colleagues, announced the four-bill package this morning, the last session day before Veterans Day.

"At a time when our soldiers and first responders are being called to go above and beyond the call of duty in service to our country, we must do everything we can to show our gratitude and to honor their sacrifices," Byrum said. "This legislation is the least we can do for those who risk their lives to serve others."

Interestingly, the House Republicans saw through passage of a separate bill, HB 4001, which would give children of deceased or disabled veterans an annual $2,800 tuition credit. That bill, sponsored by Rep. Bill CAUL (R-Big Rapids), transfers the tuition program from the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund to the Michigan Higher Education Assistance Authority.

The House also approved Caul's HB 5091, which creates a $2 check-off and ensures that all donated funds go into the state's Children of Veterans' Tuition Program.

Other lawmakers present at today's press conference were fellow sponsors Rep. Aldo VAGNOZZI (D-Farmington Hills), Rep. Mike SAK (D-Grand Rapids) and Rep. John ESPINOZA (D-Croswell). Rep. Frank ACCAVITTI (D-Eastpointe), Rep. Gino POLIDORI (D-Dearborn) and Rep. Alexander LIPSEY (D-Kalamazoo) also showed their support for the package.

Espinoza, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, said losing a loved one to war or seeing a loved one injured for life is devastating for military families. It's important for the state to ease the financial hardship that comes with such a loss.

"This proposal will give children of those who die or are injured serving our country an opportunity to build a brighter future," he said.

     

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