Education

Thousands support Iraq War vet's push to change in-state tuition policy

Posted November 1, 2012

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— An Iraq War veteran who says she was denied in-state tuition at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke delivered more than 145,000 signatures to an online petition to the UNC Board of Governors Thursday in an effort to bring change for veterans seeking in-state tuition.

Hayleigh Perez, 26, who spent 14 months in Iraq, had hoped to use her GI Bill, which only pays for in-state tuition, 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 was serving active duty there.

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

Perez says she applied to both UNC-Pembroke and Fayetteville State University and was granted in-state tuition at one, but not the other. She believes the inconsistencies within the University of North Carolina System are unjust and discriminatory.

"It is my hope today for this petition to show the UNC school system that American citizens, 145,000-plus, stand behind their student veterans," she said, adding that hundreds of veterans across the country have faced similar problems."No one should be met with the malice and unprofessional treatment that I encountered with the UNC school system."

Perez, who is now enrolled at Methodist University in Fayetteville, also met privately with the UNC System's chief of staff, Kevin Fitzgerald, who met her at the door to take in the petitions. Hayleigh Perez Thousands support Iraq War vet's push to change in-state tuition policy

Joni Worthington, vice president of communications for the UNC System, said UNC-Pembroke applied Perez's residency status appropriately and followed federal and state laws in reviewing her appeal.

"While I cannot speak to Ms. Perez's case specifically, I assure the public her case was handed professionally, deliberately and objectively," UNC-Pembroke Chancellor Kyle Carter said in an Oct. 16, 2012, letter to university staff.

Worthington acknowledged the inconsistency within the system and said administrators are working on a new approach to consolidate residency determination for all 16 campuses within the UNC System.

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  • GALNC Nov 5, 2012

    Hayleigh Perez, 26, who spent 14 months in Iraq, had hoped to use her GI Bill, which only pays for in-state tuition, 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 was serving active duty there.

    She is not a NC resident...many people own coastal property and may be retired military, but if you live out of state...you don't qualify. Also...a Masters...give me a break. Go to school in Texas where you live...and acknowledge that you live.

  • begonya Nov 5, 2012

    Check out my film that speaks to the pain of war veterans.

    http://www.begonyaplaza.com/izarproductions/2011/10/americanhero-shortfilm.html

  • Crumps Br0ther Nov 2, 2012

    I'm sure its been said already but if she was an illegal the school wouldnt have had an issue with her.

  • Sherlock Nov 1, 2012

    Just because she got all teh signatures the school will not chage because it has to do with money, now if she plqayed football or basketball thye would have change it right away, but she is not bring money to the school.

  • common tater Nov 1, 2012

    Sounds like I may be alone on this one. Just cause they had a rental property in NC doesn't make them residents here, seems to me. Basically they want to have in-state tuition in any state then? She got in-state rates at another school...it's not the end of the world.

  • kawirider54 Nov 1, 2012

    We hear about UNCs commitment to the military community but we also hear how 'non-US-residents' somehow make it in. They get Pell grants and foreign scholarships and even social security assistance. They are currently ripping the US Gov't off to the tune of 'Billions' of taxpayer dollars. I pay alot of tax myself. (Thanks Cullen) These people are certainly welcome here however they are not entitled to any benefits that legal residents would be entitled to.

  • bluecanary Nov 1, 2012

    I'm pretty sure that I read in another article about this case that she purposely continued to maintain her house and pay taxes in the state of NC because she knew she was coming back here to go to school eventually. If that is true, then she should have been granted in state tuition.

  • JayJay Nov 1, 2012

    In recent years NC state schools have taken any excuse to force students to pay out of state tuition. They are trying to make up for loss of state funding.

  • scousler Nov 1, 2012

    I have read the details of this story and I agree with UNC system denial of in-state tuition. This person, even though they were an NC homeowner, was stationed in Texas and a resident of that state (where there is no state income tax). After not paying any state income tax - they complain about being denied in-state tuition rates. Sounds like they were trying butter the bread on both sides. No sympathy for her at all - she knew what she was doing - even dislike the fact that she is raising the issue of being vet to aid her cause - when it has nothing to do with the issue.

  • soldier Nov 1, 2012

    "Today, 12 states allow individuals who are in the United States illegally to pay the same in-state tuition rates as legal residents of the state without providing the same rates to others in the country who are here legally." ~~ United Stated Dept of Education.

    Yes, illegals ARE "privy" to in state tuition.

    FAIL #2...."Drivers license has nothing to do with residency"...
    No state in the Union issues a drivers license to a non-resident. You cannot be a non-resident of North Carolina and hold a valid NC Drivers License. ~~Real ID act.

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