Dependents now rate Virginia instate tuition
Lance Cpl. Sha'ahn Williams

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. (Aug. 10, 2006) -- A college education is an expensive endeavor that many Marines and their family members desire, but cannot afford. To alleviate this problem, Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine signed House Bill 695 and Senate Bill 121, which provides in-state tuition rates for military family members whose sponsor is stationed in the Commonwealth. These rates nearly slash the cost of higher education in half for hopeful students who desire to attend a Virginia state school.

The new legislation was approved as an expression of the governor's support of Virginia's troops.

''Virginia is honored to be the home of 122,000 active duty personnel, and almost three- quarters of a million veterans and their families," Kaine said. ''We salute their service and look for opportunities like this to thank them for their service and to tangibly demonstrate that we are sensitive to the challenges that their military service can present for their families."

The governor signed the bill June 19 and it became effective July 1.

''We feel this is big news because we have tried to get in-state rates for family members for years," said Susan McIntosh, education services officer at the Lifelong Learning Center here. ''Now they only pay a third of the tuition, and do not have to change his or her official residency to Virginia to receive the in-state rate."

Eligible family members for the new rates must be the dependent of a Marine permanently stationed in Virginia. They must also have a valid military identification card and a copy of military permanent change of station orders.

McIntosh expects enrollment to increase by 25 percent.

''We currently have 1,400 students from Quantico attending college and we will probably add 325 students now that the tuition rates will be lowered," she said.

Toni-Anne Mannino, a student who is pursuing her bachelor's degree in Business Administration, came to Quantico with her husband, who is a corporal, a few weeks ago. She used to work a full-time job to pay for her education, she said. Now, she feels less pressure to work and is able to concentrate more on her studies.

''I was very happy to hear this news, because it was difficult working and trying to afford tuition and everything without getting a (financial) break," Mannino said.

For more information, call the Lifelong Learning Center at (703) 754-4010.