A color guard from the Wind River Reservation in the 2013 Riverton Veteran's Day Parade. (Ernie Over photo)

(Laramie, Wyo.) – Through a new state law, the University of Wyoming now offers in-state tuition to qualified military veteran students.

The law passed by the Wyoming State Legislature this year will provide a substantial financial opportunity for qualified veterans across the country considering UW as the place to meet their educational goals, UW officials say.

“We’re delighted to be able to offer this benefit to those who have served our nation,” says UW President Dick McGinity, himself a Vietnam veteran who served five years as a naval aviator. “UW wants more veterans to enroll, in part, because the skill set they gain from their service — self-discipline, courage, determination, critical thinking, leadership ability, confidence, loyalty, planning and coordination — helps them succeed in higher education and in life.”

In-state tuition and fees at UW are $4,645 per year, nearly $10,000 less than what nonresidents pay.

“This is beneficial to incoming qualified nonresident veteran students who will only have to pay the resident rate for tuition now,” says Joanna Carter, UW Student Financial Aid director.

Nearly 600 military veteran students are enrolled at UW for the spring semester. It is not certain how many qualified military veterans will take advantage of the new benefit.

“The work that UW has done the last few years to identify and address the unique needs of our student veterans continues to highlight UW as a truly veteran-friendly institution,” says Marty Martinez, UW Veterans Services Center (VSC) project coordinator. “While UW’s nonresident tuition is already considered very affordable — especially when compared to other public four-year institutions within our region — veterans using military or veterans education benefits quickly realize that those benefits fall considerably short when applied to nonresident tuition.”

To qualify for the new benefit, nonresident military veteran students must meet the following criteria:

– Be a veteran of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard; U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps; and National Guard or any reserve or auxiliary component.

– Apply to attend UW within one year of honorable discharge from military service. Students will be required to provide documentation they have received honorable discharges.

– Provide evidence that they have taken steps to establish Wyoming residency, which includes one of the following: a Wyoming voter registration card; a current Wyoming driver’s license or identification card; current Wyoming vehicle registration; evidence of employment in the state; a current property lease or purchase agreement showing the veteran as lessee or purchaser of an in-state residence; a utility bill showing a current account for a state residence in the veteran’s name; or other evidence that can be reviewed by UW officials.

The benefit also will apply to veteran students currently enrolled at UW as of April 1, if they meet the criteria.

For questions about the new in-state residency qualifications or requirements, contact Martinez, (307) 766-6909 or emailmmarti77@uwyo.edu.

A few years ago, the UW Veterans Services Task Force was developed to strengthen support and services to the many veterans returning to post-secondary education after they left the military.

UW opened the Veterans Services Center three years ago in Knight Hall, Room 241, to help military students transition into campus life. The center offers services to all active-duty and veteran students and those who formerly served in the armed forces. The VSC promotes a “welcoming, caring, support system and resource for a successful college experience.”

“Nearly 600 military veterans are attending classes at UW and, whether they are separated, retired, active duty or active members of the National Guard or reserve, many face certain obstacles to meeting their education goals,” Martinez says.

Those include being away from an education setting for a number of years, financial limitations, physical or psychological challenges and the adjustment from the structured military lifestyle to civilian student life.

“UW has recognized these challenges and responded with policies and practices that assist our veterans from enrollment through graduation,” Martinez adds.

Besides offering veteran specific programming and the Veterans Services Center, UW also has waived the admissions application fee for veterans and offers priority registration for veterans, using timed education benefits.

Other services offered include veteran-specific housing considerations; student veteran orientation; UW Disability Student Services and University Counseling Center programming focused on veterans’ needs; educating faculty and staff about veterans concerns and issues; designating veteran scholarship opportunities; and fostering an environment of camaraderie, respect and conversation to enhance UW’s commitment to be recognized as a veteran-friendly institution.

“On behalf of our veteran community, I thank our Wyoming Legislature and the UW administration for their willingness, support and efforts to make the University of Wyoming such a great choice for veterans,” Martinez says.

For more information about veteran services at UW, contact Martinez or any of the Veterans Services Center staff at (307) 766-6908 or email uw-vets@uwyo.edu.

For more information about the benefits or admissions policies, contact Carter at (307) 766-6726, carte22@uwyo.edu; or UW Admissions Director Shelley Dodd at (307) 766-4273, shelley@uwyo.edu.