Washington’s Public 4-Year Sector: Serving Those Who Served

Small American flags on WSU Vancouver Campus lawn

This year marks the 154th observance of Memorial Day. What began as “Decoration Day” in 1868 to commemorate Civil War soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery, has become a national holiday to remember those who have died in service of our nation. Now is a good time to reflect on the sacrifices these individuals make, and how our public four-year sector works to serve their needs.

Veteran Residency in Washington

According to the ERDC’s most recent data, Washington’s public four-year sector enrolled almost 3,000 veteran undergraduates in the 2019/20 school year. Veteran students  benefit from a wide range of programs in our state. These programs can apply to military-affiliated students, current military members, veterans, and veteran dependents. These include partial and full tuition waivers for veterans, veteran spouses and domestic partners, or veteran children and dependents, a $500 yearly book stipend, and many more. Our state also benefits from having one of the most powerful waiver programs in the country.

College Benefits for Veterans, Veteran Families, and Dependents

The US Department of Veterans Affairs’ Principles of Excellence requires institutions that receive funding through sources such as the GI Bill to follow certain guidelines that promote transparency and student success. For example, schools must provide written personal summary costs, educational completion plans, and counseling, among other things. Washington’s public four-year sector goes above and beyond these requirements. Other federal programs and benefits can be found in Title 38 U.S.C. and Title 10 U.S.C. Chapter 1606.

SB 5874 Creates Greater Access for Veterans and their Families

Some recent changes have come to military student residency in our state. The 2022 Legislature passed Senate Bill 5874 , which created greater access for military members and their families to establish resident student status in Washington. The bill amends Washington’s tuition equity law (RCW 28B.15.012(2)(e)), by changing the definition of veterans and veteran families.

Starting June 9, 2022, in-state residency will also apply to military members (including national guard and reservists), veterans, and dependents (spouses, former spouses, and children) who are eligible for VA educational assistance or rehabilitation benefits. These benefits do not have a time limit on when the student must enroll, the student does not need to live in Washington, no requirement of years of service of the military member, and the student maintains residency if they stay continuously enrolled. Residency also applies to active-duty members stationed in Washington, those who get reassigned but maintain continuous enrollment, and those who enroll in Washington within three years of reassignment.

Additional populations that can qualify for residency include but are not limited to:

  • Active-duty members who live in Washington but are stationed in a bordering county in Oregon.
  • Washington National Guard members (do not have to be on active duty).
  • Active-duty members or Washington national guard members stationed out-of-state who entered service as a Washington resident and maintained their Washington domicile.
  • Starting June 9, 2022: Veterans who had at least 10 years of honorable service and at least 90 days of active-duty service (separation does not have to be from active duty).
  • Veterans who were discharged from the uniformed services due to sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

This clarification of dependents and eligibility extends residency to any student who is eligible for VA educational assistance or rehabilitation benefits. Certain active-duty military, veterans, and dependents can also benefit from these residency changes. More information about residency can be found here.

Washington’s public four-year sector will continue to serve the needs of military members, veterans, and their families. Our campuses provide services that go above and beyond state and federal law, providing additional wraparound services that address food insecurity, mental health, and housing needs for our veteran and military student populations. We will continue to serve those who served not only during this Memorial Day, but every day.

Additional Resources

Eastern Washington University Veterans Resource Center
Central Washington University Veterans Center
The Evergreen State College Veterans Resource Center
University of Washington Veterans Education Benefits Center
  Office of Student Veteran Life
Washington State University Veterans and Military-Affiliated Students
  Pullman Veterans & Military-Affiliated Center
Western Washington University Veteran Services
  Military Resources
Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs Education and Training

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