Tuition Exemptions for Veterans Could Cost Legislature $1 Billion by 2018

Lauren Williams's picture

The Hazlewood program, a state-requirement that public higher education institutions waive qualified veterans' tuition and mandatory fees, could cost the Legislature more than $1 billion by 2018, according an estimate from the Legislative Budget Board.

Currently, individual colleges and universities absorb the tuition losses but higher education officials and veteran advocates have recently urged lawmakers to put money behind their policy, which many are calling an unfunded mandate. The total value of forgone revenue for schools through the program jumped from about $24 million in 2009 to $110 million in 2012.

"There wasn't any information state agencies would've gotten that would have indicated this was going to go gangbusters like it has," said Dan Weaver, assistant commissioner for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, at a House Higher Education committee hearing Wednesday.

The committee mulled possible ways to partially or fully fund the program through the Legislature, including state Rep. Tryon Lewis' HB 690.

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