By Marguerite Cleveland
Recently my son who was beginning the college application process asked me, “Mom where am I from? I was born in Georgia, you and Dad are residents of Florida where I never lived and my driver’s license is from Washington State. I have to admit I was stumped.
Military children are carted from state to state and often around the world and have no choice in the matter. I remember going to three different schools in 4th grade which was a tough year and my two boys will have each attended 6 schools by the time they graduate with my oldest going to six schools in six years. With the challenges military kids face they deserve a break.
I propose the Military Children’s Residency Act. This law would allow military kids upon turning 18 to choose their state of residence. This would allow them to establish residency for college without having a waiting period. Isn’t that the least we can do for these resilient kids? Why should they have to pay thousands more in tuition because a parent serves in the military?
We aren’t talking a lot of kids either. There are approximately 2,000,000 military children in school systems across the country. If you divide that out by grade equally that is a little over 150,000 graduating seniors. Around 70% of go on to college which is around 108,000. If you split it equally over the 50 states it is around 2200. Granted that number is probably much lower for some states and higher for others but still pretty low in the scheme of things. States could easily absorb in state tuition rates for these kids.
I have seen a trend recently where the challenges our kids face are starting to be recognized. I live in Washington State and they just recently passed a law that allows military parents to register for school prior to having moving into their new homes. This past summer we were purchasing a home in a different school district and I wanted to register my son for summer school. The cutoff was before we closed on the house and even with a sales contract I was not allowed to register until we actually resided in the house. Very frustrating but this new law fixes that issue.
What laws do you think state and federal legislatures should pass for military families?
Marguerite Cleveland is a freelance writer who specializes in human interest and travel stories. She is a military brat, a veteran and now a military spouse. Her military experience is vast as the daughter of a Navy man who served as an enlisted sailor and then Naval Officer. She served as an enlisted soldier in the reserves and on active duty, then as an Army Officer. She currently serves as a military spouse. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Visit her website www.WanderWordsWine.com