Amended state law is saving MTSU student veterans ...

Amended state law is saving MTSU student veterans thou$and$

MTSU student veteran Kevin Hicks saved more than $13,000 in out-of-state tuition and felt like he won the lottery.

Thanks to an amended Tennessee General Assembly regulation pertaining to education for veterans, service members and other eligible individuals, the change will save student veterans thousands of dollars in the future after they establish in-state residency.

The change affects those enrolled at any public college or university in Tennessee, those using Veterans Affairs benefits where they attend college, and those now living in Tennessee after living in another state.

MTSU student Kevin Hicks and Daniels Veterans Center staffer Sean Martin discuss out-of-state tuition savings.

MTSU student veteran Kevin Hicks, left, and Daniels Veterans Center staff member Sean Martin review a copy of an amended bill passed by members of the Tennessee General Assembly to eliminate out-of-state tuition for vets and others who are eligible and living in the state. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

It saved Hicks, who moved to Murfreesboro from Birmingham, Alabama, $13,168 — and he was over-the-top happy to take care of a required $10 international study-abroad student fee.

It all started when Hicks, 26, an aerospace professional pilot major, was in the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center earlier this year and happened to overhear a conversation between Sean Martin, transition manager in the Veterans Transitioning Home office, and staff member Teana Harle.

Martin told Hicks the center had just learned about the change.

“You work hard for your country. Keeping money in our pockets — that’s good,” Hicks said. “It’s helping to pay for my flight school.”

How did Hicks plan to pay for college if the out-of-state tuition opportunity hadn’t opened?

“Hitting up all my family members and begging them for money,” he said. “I have a lot of friends barely making it and just holding on.”

Hicks works as a skydiving instructor in Chattanooga, Tennessee, every weekend and did so this past summer, too.

“With the tuition taken care of, my rent is covered, as are my utilities and all my bills,” said Hicks, who was a U.S. Army communications specialist working with high-frequency communications.

Martin said the center is “no longer in the business of trying to declare in-state residency. We don’t know how many people this could impact or that it could’ve impacted.

“This has not only helped out single veterans, but it’s also going to help out married veterans who are coming back to the state and their children and spouses who are using their education benefits at MTSU,” he added. “About one-fifth of those I have processed under the law fall under the category of a spouse or child.”

To learn more about the Veterans Center, located on the first floor of the Keathley University Center, and its offerings, visit or call 615-904-8347.

State amendment removing out-of-state tuition for eligible student vets, others

A veteran or other individual eligible to receive educational benefits administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, through any provision of the U.S. Code, shall not be required to pay out-of-state tuition or any out-of-state fee when the veteran or other individual is:

  • Enrolled in any public institution of higher education in the state.
  • Utilizing such (VA) benefits at the enrolling institution.
  • Living in the state of Tennessee, regardless of the individual’s formal state of residency.

— Randy Weiler (