McCrory will add this initiative to his budget proposal. If approved by the N.C. General Assembly, it will allow all veterans — regardless of their home states — to attend any of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges for the same price as an in-state resident.
More than 60,000 military personnel are expected to leave the armed forces in the next five years with the closing of the Afghanistan War.
McCrory said in a statement that he hoped expanded educational opportunities will attract future veterans to North Carolina.
“Make no mistake,” he said. “We want more veterans to make North Carolina their home. We want their skills to help build our economy and their leadership to strengthen our communities and state. In-state community college tuition is designed to help them start their civilian careers in North Carolina.”
The N.C. General Assembly’s short session starts May 14. Legislators will review McCrory’s budget this summer.
The budget does not yet include in-state tuition for veterans who want to attend UNC-system schools, which some see as the next step in attracting more veterans.
Marlena Brokob, a UNC senior and Marine veteran, said she thinks providing in-state tuition for veterans at community colleges offers limited education benefits.
“Community college will give you some job skills,” Brokob said. “There are certain things that a community college is good at, but if you wanted to do something other than what you were doing in the military, you are probably going to need a bachelor’s degree or higher. You can’t get that through the community college level.”
Megen Hoenk , a spokeswoman for N.C. Community College System, said the system supports McCrory’s initiative even though it did not come up with the idea.
Almost triple the number of veterans — from 132 to 313 — attended a state community college from last spring to this spring, she said.
Raiford Trask, chairman of the Board of Governors’ special committee on military affairs, said he is hopeful that McCrory’s budget will expand to include in-state tuition for veterans at UNC-system schools in the future.
At a Board of Governors meeting last fall, members unanimously passed a resolution requesting authority for the board to grant all veterans in-state residency for tuition purposes.
McCory has voiced strong support for the Board of Governors’ resolution, Trask said. He added that there is considerable support in both houses of the legislature as well.
“First of all, it is the right thing to do for those who have served our country, and our research shows that these students bring a huge benefit to the classroom in many areas.”