June 10–It’s been two years in the making, but Gov. Nikki has finally inked a bill that will allow using the GI Bill to attend public colleges in South Carolina without having to pay out-of-state tuition.
Senate bill 391 was heavily influenced by Sen. Tom Young, R-Aiken. Young said in May that the extra expense with out-of-state tuition causes some to decide not to attend or to defer enrollment.
In addition, the GI Bill covers the cost of in-state tuition, but doesn’t cover the difference in out-of-state fees and tuition.
On Tuesday, was joined by Young, other members of the Aiken County delegation, and a host of and friends in the USC Aiken library where she sat to sign the bill.
said the bill accomplishes several tasks, including making sure S.C. have the same educational opportunities as those in other states.
In addition, the bill will help in recruiting more to the state.
“That’s incredibly helpful when we’re recruiting companies to South Carolina,” said. “They love to hire . And so for me, this is a great recruiting tool.”
Though Young has been championed as the primary sponsor of the bill, he said Tuesday that “you don’t get anything done in Columbia without a lot of help.” He added that the bill came close to being passed last year, but died in Conference Committee.
Over the last two years, local officials including Robert Murphy, the director of the and Military Student Success Center for USC Aiken, and Jim Lorriane, president and CEO of Augusta’s America’s Warrior Partnership, have testified in Columbia in support of the legislation.
In addition, Young credited other members of the Aiken delegation for making sure the bill passed through their various committees and through both chambers of the General Assembly.
Pulling from catchphrase, Murphy said it is a “great day for in South Carolina” en route to saying the bill will allow USC Aiken to have an even greater impact on .
“I look forward to telling , that through the work of Sen. Young, Mr. Jim Lorraine and others, that we did it. We changed the law,” Murphy said.
added that last year, South Carolina was named the most patriotic state. The ranking, she said, speaks to the various organizations that have made sure military members and their families are taken care of.
She added that USCA’s ranking as the No. 1 top public regional college for in the South in U.S. News & World Report’s the “2015 Best Colleges for ,” made it an ideal location for the signing.
“This bill should be about the fact that a , no matter where they live, should feel like they’re at home in South Carolina,” said.
Derrek Asberry is the SRS beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June 2013. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.
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