By Debbie Gregory.
A federal appeals court has upheld a much-watched Texas program that promises free college educations to military veterans if they lived in the state when they enlisted.
The Hazlewood Act, which dates back to the 1920s, is a State of Texas benefit that provides qualified Veterans, spouses, and dependent children with an education benefit of up to 150 hours of tuition exemption, including most fee charges, at public institutions of higher education in Texas. It does not include living expenses, books, or supply fees.
The Hazlewood Act was expanded in 2009 to include veterans who entered military service at a Texas installation.
The act was challenged by a veteran who enlisted in Georgia, and moved to Texas after he was discharged. On January 26, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that the requirement that Veterans must have entered service in Texas in order to be eligible to receive the Texas Hazlewood exemption of tuition and fees at public schools (the fixed point residency requirement) was unconstitutional.
The decision would have sent the program’s costs skyrocketing.
Texas appealed to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that Texas-residency rules were not unconstitutional, and said the state has the right to regulate its own education system.
Eligibility requirements include:
- Entered the military service from Texas, or Home of Record at the time of entry into active duty was Texas, or was a Texas resident at the time of entry into military service
- Served more than 180 days of federal military service- excluding Initial Entry Training (Unless otherwise permanently disabled or killed while on Active Duty prior to serving 180 days of federal military service.)
- Received an Honorable Discharge or General Discharge under Honorable Conditions
- Exhausted GI Bill benefits if eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at the 100% rate
- Reside in Texas during term of enrollment
- Provide DD214 or equivalent supporting documentation
- Meet the GPA requirement of the institution’s satisfactory academic progress policy in a degree or certificate program as determined by the institution’s financial aid policy and, as an undergraduate student, not be consideered to have attempted an excessive amount of credit hours.