- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

STORRS, Conn. (AP) - The University of Connecticut’s board of trustees voted Wednesday to expand a program that gives tuition breaks to some veterans and their dependents.

The program provides tuition at in-state rates to veterans, regardless of whether they are Connecticut residents.

“Many veterans are older than their classmates and have had trying experiences in their lives that most of us will never have to face,” said UConn President Susan Herbst. “The more we can do to assist them and insure their success at the university, the better.”

A 2014 federal law, the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act, had mandated the program, but limited the in-state tuition benefit to the first three years after a member of the military was discharged from the service.

The board voted Wednesday to eliminate that time restriction, making the program available to virtually all veterans and dependents who have served over the past 30 years, said Kristopher Perry, UConn’s director of Veterans Affairs and Military programs.

That includes dependents of current active duty members of the military, who also were not included in the federal legislation, he said.

There are currently about 900 veterans attending UConn and most of them have Veterans Administration benefits that pay for their tuition at in-state rates. But 21 of those veterans are from out-of-state, and would have had to make up the $19,000 difference in tuition costs out of their own pockets.

Perry said the school also wanted to help dependents who are eligible for VA benefits, but whose parents served long before they needed tuition assistance.

“If their parent was discharged when they were 10, this benefit would have expired when they were 13,” he said. “Now they are 18 and can take advantage of this.”

Perry said the school has not estimated how much the program will cost the university or how many veterans might take advantage of it.

“I don’t think we’ll see it go from 20 to 200,” he said. “But, I do expect to see UConn being much more attractive to highly qualified veterans and their dependents from all across the country.”

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