Thursday, August 18, 2005

Texas Marine Who Fought In Iraq Denied In-State Tuition Rates

This is absurd.

A decorated Marine enrolling in college was surprised to learn his Texas driver's license, car registration and bank records weren't enough to qualify him for the lower-priced state resident tuition.

Carl Basham said officials at Austin Community College told him that his two tours of duty in Iraq kept him out of the state too long to qualify for Texas resident tuition.

Privacy laws prevent college officials from specifically discussing Basham's case, but Austin Community College spokesman Dwayne Cox said it's not Basham's military tours that keep him from meeting in-state residence requirements.

Under Texas law, members of the military are presumed to maintain the same residence as when they enlisted in the service. Although he grew up throughout Texas, mostly in Waco, Basham graduated from high school and enlisted in the Marine Corps in Monroe, La.

The school's response surprised Basham, 27, who was born in Beeville, is registered to vote in Travis County and does his banking in Austin.

Not having the in-state designation would mean paying about $2,600 instead of about $500 a semester in tuition.

It's unclear how many returning service members face the same problem as Basham, said Ray Grasshoff, a spokesman for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. But officials at the agency are looking into Basham's case.

In a letter to the board, state Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn wrote "Mr. Basham has gone to war for us, and I intend to go to war for him! We owe it to our returning service men and women to make it as easy and uncomplicated as possible for them to resume their normal lives."

For now, Basham has to pay about $3,000 for tuition and books. Although he expects the federal government to pay for his studies, Basham said he won't receive GI benefits for several more months.

Clearly Mr. Basham is indeed a resident of Texas as he was permitted to register to vote, a registration process requiring identification including: a driver’s license, bank statement, utility bill, pay check, or other government document that shows name and address.

Who may vote in Texas?

Any United States citizen residing in Texas (emphasis mine).

Furthermore, illegal aliens in Texas are afforded in-state tuition. Perhaps this Marine should have returned home by way of slipping over the fence on the Mexican border (ad nauseum).

Want to do something?

Email contact information of Stephen B. Kinslow, President of ACC for those who wish to let ACC know what they think.

Update: Mr. Basham is expected to get in-state tuition after all at ACC.

"Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson late today announced Carl Basham, 27, of Austin, qualifies for a waiver.

"It's been a pretty good day to help one Marine," said Patterson, himself a retired Marine.

Patterson, who also chairs the Veterans Land Board, is preparing a letter for Basham to take to the school on Friday to further prove he is a Texas resident."

Read more.

Good! Don't ya just love it when these things are resolved without dragging on and on? :)

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