I am a first year-first semester communications major at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
My tuition is paid under Chapter 33 of the Veteran’s Administration, otherwise known as the Post/9-11 GI Bill. I qualify for the Hazlewood Act, but have elected to transfer that benefit to my daughter. In about 14 years, barring any negative change to the current law, she will be able to attend any Texas state college or university tuition-free. Well, not really free-the money comes from somewhere.
My current tuition and my daughter’s possible future tuition is paid by set-aside, a system in which a portion of students’ tuitions pay for state and federal college programs. The question is, is it fair?
Grady Hazlewood was a member of the alumni of West-Texas A&M University and a Texas state senator (D) from 1941-1971. He was the first to work on tuition-free programs designed for veterans returning from WWII.
This was meant to provide for the education of Texas veterans in order to make them eligible to compete in the civilian workplace and continue to contribute to society. Some people question the fairness of this concept, but it is essential to maintaining our economic machine. Too often, particularly in the era from WWII through Vietnam, veterans were returning from war with no resources to gain employment. Knowing how to operate a tank or M-1 rifle was a very desirable skill in war, but no civilian employers saw the need for such skills once the veteran returned.
Without the knowledge and training to transition to civilian life, these veterans had a high probability of ending up unemployed and possibly homeless. Therefore, legislation such as the Hazlewood Act became a pathway to Texas veterans’ education, which led to employment and the ability for these vets to contribute to the greater society through resources supplied by earned incomes.
A nation without an educated populace becomes a nation of the Third-World. Thomas Jefferson pushed for a public education for all American citizens guaranteed to at least a third-grade level in the late 1700s. He realized that the lack of education would ultimately lead to crime, disorder and potential chaos.
During Jefferson’s time, the only education one needed to survive was basic reading, writing, and math skills to work farms or construction. We live in a completely different world today. The current populace needs a much higher education level to hold the positions needed to be productive in the 21st century.
If anyone has earned that tuition-free education, it is our veterans.
It is important to see that veterans have already contributed not just through the sacrifice of life and limb, but through their own tax dollars. Vets are not bums living in their grandparents’ basements, complaining and looking for handouts. We volunteered, for whatever reason, to participate in the most difficult and horrifying level of service to this country. Vets have given so much to the state of Texas, that a free education should be one of many guarantees in exchange for their sacrifice.
So, back to the question of fairness. Not only is the Hazlewood/Post-911/set-aside system fair, it is necessary in this high-tech globalized world. Yes, the veterans deserve it, and the rest of the population needs it. You may not agree that paying a portion of your tuition or tax dollars for the education of your neighbors is fair, but I promise you in the long run, it is necessary.
Hazlewood Act Eligibility Requirements:
1. Entered military with
Texas as Home of Record
2. Served at least 180 days of federal military service
3. Received an Honorable or General Under Honorable Conditions discharge
4. Exhausted Post/9-11 GI Bill benefits
5. Reside in Texas during term of enrollment
6. Provide DD214 or equivalent supporting documentation
7. Meet GPA and hours requirements