NC Army vet denied in-state tuition at UNC-Pembroke

Posted October 18, 2012
Updated October 19, 2012

— An Army veteran who lives in Raeford says she was denied in-state tuition at the University of Pembroke, even though she owns her home.

Hayleigh Perez, 26, who spent 14 months in Iraq, had hoped to use her GI Bill to to attend the university to get a Master's Degree, but she says she was told she did not qualify as a state resident because she moved to Texas with her husband, who had been assigned to a military base there.

Beginning last year, the GI Bill program quit paying out-of-state rates at public colleges and universities.

Even though she was staying in Texas, she and her husband continued to pay mortgage and taxes on their home. They moved back about two years later.

She says she applied to two state schools and was granted in-state tuition at one, but not at Pembroke.

"My home is here in North Carolina," Perez said. "My voter registration, my voting history – those are the things that make me a North Carolinian. It was very rough."

Hayleigh Perez Army vet denied in-state tuition at UNC-Pembroke

Perez says she has moved on and is now attending Methodist University in Fayetteville.

"I just don't think that any veteran should have to be treated the way I was treated," she said. ""That's why I'm doing this. It has nothing to do with me."

She has since started an online petition and has received more than 140,000 signatures.

UNC-Pembroke has said that Perez's case was handled professionally, deliberately and objectively.

A spokeswoman for the University of North Carolina system says she cannot comment about specifics related to an applicant's case but says if Perez were to reapply now that her husband is stationed in North Carolina, she would be considered for in-state tuition.

The spokeswoman also reiterated UNC's strong commitment to North Carolina's military community.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • jlpr1182 Oct 23, 2012

    Student Veterans Advocacy Group President Statement cont..

    4. Bought a home in NC several years ago (while stationed in NC), pays property tax in NC, has a driver's license in NC, has been registered to vote in NC since 2008, was married in NC, pays bills for and in NC, has and lives in NC!

    Hayleigh Perez is a proud wife, stay-at-home mother, a student, and a Veteran! The UNC School System has apparently violated her FERPA rights to privacy by speaking about her residency documentation, made inconsistent statements about this issue, and seemingly now discriminates against stay-at-home mothers because they don't pay income taxes.

    According to NC General Statute 116-143- in order to qualify as an in-state student for tuition purposes, you (student) must provide a preponderance of evidence that substantiates your residency. A preponderance is a fancy way of saying "mostly"!

  • jlpr1182 Oct 23, 2012

    Student Veterans Advocacy Group President Statement:

    "I would like to clarify something for Jason Van Steenwyk, and other interested parties...

    I truly appreciate your interest, and reporting, on the issues of discrimination by the UNC School System toward former Army Sergeant Hayleigh Perez and thousands of other student Veterans alike.

    Student Veteran - Hayleigh Perez is:
    1. Is married to an active-duty service member...period!
    2. Was classified as an in-state resident for tuition purposes by Fayetteville State University but out-of-state at UNC Pembroke (both UNC Schools) providing both schools with the same documentation!
    3. Served on active-duty with the U.S. Army for 4-years, having to move 4 different times during her service, and served in Iraq (defending OUR country)! cont...

  • superman Oct 19, 2012

    Does she think be deserves special treatment because she is a verteran? I can name other groups that could also qualify for special treatment. Get a life and move on. People with children have done nothing for me so why should I have to pay to educate them?

  • archangel44369 Oct 19, 2012

    Nightrain2010 said,
    "Well you pay for it then. Because I shouldn't have to. The soldiers have done nothing for me and I shouldn't be burdened with their 'wants'"

    Wow...How bout, Well you pay for it then. Because I shouldn't have to.. People on welfare, foodstamps, medicare and social security have done nothing for me and I shouldn't be burdened with their wants?

    And WRAL, you allowed this person to post this? Simply incredible.

  • phwpoe Oct 19, 2012

    Obtaining in-state tuition has little to do with paying NC property tax. It has to do with paying NC income tax.
    If all one had to do was own property in NC, then every out-of-stater with a beach house in NC would be in-state residents.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Oct 19, 2012

    She did not qualify for in-state tuition

    Correct. She was trying to get over NC. But it did not happen. We in NC should be very thankful to that.

  • GALNC Oct 19, 2012

    Her residency was in Texas, not NC. It is not based on whether you own a home, but where you physically reside. She did not qualify for in-state tuition since she lived in Texas when she applied.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Oct 19, 2012

    Texas is not the same as living in NC. She needs to wake up an realize that she cannot have all that she wants.

  • Viewer Oct 19, 2012

    Did they pay NC income taxes while in Texas?

  • carrboroyouth Oct 19, 2012

    "Just come to UNC-CH and observe the way the ROTC and veterans are treated and talked about..."

    I go to UNC and I don't know how this is a relevant statement to the article, nor do I understand what you are implying about ROTC treatment. They are treated and talked about just the same as any other student.