With the rising tuition costs in America, many children from middle class and lower class homes may lose out on the opportunity of pursuing dreams and career goals because their families cannot afford the extra expenses of paying for college tuition. Military families are not wealthy families and sometimes saving money is difficult due to different factors that arise during the course of serving your country.
For instance, maybe your family relied and benefited from having both parents working, but a recent change of bases takes you to an area where the non-military dependent spouse is unable to attain work (occurs at many overseas bases and even stateside bases in densely populated communities) in their career field or has to settle on a job that pays way less then accustomed to. This puts a strain on finances and often negatively hinders saving money.
Today, applying for financial aid for your child when you come from a military family is almost laughable. The financial aid application forces military families to add in to the equation funds that are not necessarily given to the family such as money military member receives for their personal clothing allowance (covers their uniforms and equipment), a rough estimate on housing allowance even if you do not receive it because you live in base housing, any extra money the service member may have received for going TDY or being deployed during that filing year. This often places the family in a position of having to contribute more money toward the child’s tuition, and often this is falsely calculated against funds that are never actually used in a family’s budget, because it is never physically given to them to be used as actual money. It is not like the service member can take that extra food allowance they are given when they go TDY and put it toward tuition, right? Unfortunately when calculating financial aid for service member’s dependents, it is often an unfair and unrealistic process.
Another problem many dependents of military members run into when it is time to think about college is the non-resident status they often have to apply under, which drives up the cost even more. For example, you are a military family stationed overseas or out of your state of residency and your child has decided to attend school in your state of residency. Your state of residency may not recognize the child as eligible to receive in-state tuition because you do not own a home or residence in that state. It is almost like a loop-hole that military dependent children sometimes fall through. Many of these children have never even lived in the state their parents may claim residency in, and many more may be United States citizens, but were born in a foreign country; and this sometimes hinders them from receiving in-state tuition, forcing them to have to pay the out-of-state tuition that is generally way higher.
It is not so much that military dependent children should receive a special discount just because they come from a military family, but that there should be some exceptions to the rules made. Like no matter what school the child plans to attend or would like to attend, they should be allowed to be admitted as in-state for tuition purposes, since many of these students technically have never resided in the state they were necessarily born in or their parents claim as residency. When a military dependent child applies for financial aid, they should not have to impute any funds the military sponsor received for TDY, combat pay, clothing and food allowance, base housing estimated expense, and other funds that truly never go into a military family’s household budget or finances, because this causes the family to have to come up with out of pocket money to contribute to the cost of tuition inaccurately based on money that just is not present for that type of use.
So yes, military dependent children should receive a discount for college tuition purposes, because there needs to be a realization that all too often the military lifestyle can and does affect the cost of a dependents college education unjustly and unfairly. It can often hinder the child from being able to attend higher education. There parents have made the noble choice to serve their country, the least the country can do is ensure that their children can attend college without causing as much financial hardship as it often does, which sometimes keeps the child from pursuing dreams and goals, or better yet, causes them to sacrifice their dreams and settle on enlisting into the military themselves as the last resort. This kind of tracking of military dependents is unfair, and should not be tolerated.