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New State And Federal Laws Reduce Financial Barriers To College For Military Families

CCAC North Library

Dwight Boddorf thought he was going to make a career out of the military. But when he was medically discharged after an encounter with an improvised explosive device in Iraq, he said he wanted to switch gears and move as far away from the military as possible.

He now works in education as the director of military and veterans services at the Community College of Allegheny County.

“I told myself if I was ever in a position to assist other veterans … that I would do my best. It so happens, here I am at CCAC,” Boddorf said. “We serve about 1,000-plus military and veteran students a year, so we are one of the largest in the state and certainly the largest in western Pennsylvania.”

CCAC may soon see even more students with military backgrounds, due to new state and federal laws that reduce financial barriers to higher education.

The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 requires state colleges and universities to offer in-state tuition to active duty military and certain groups of veterans and their dependents. Pennsylvania’s law, which took effect July 1, goes a step further, Boddorf said.

“If they are a veteran of any era, if they are a dependent -- so if they are a spouse or if they are a child of a military member or veteran -- and also, because of the new SCOTUS ruling, those benefits are now open to same-sex couples who were previously denied that before,” he said.

CCAC has three rate levels. In-county students pay $104/credit, whereas in-state but out-of-county students pay about $209/credit. For students coming from out-of-state, tuition is nearly $400/credit. Now all military members, reservists, veterans and their dependents will pay the in-county rate.