Veterans will pay less to attend Florida colleges and universities starting Tuesday, one of a handful of laws taking effect at the start of a new budget year.
The Florida GI bill means any veteran living in the Sunshine State only has to pay in-state tuition. That tuition is typically one-third the cost of out-of-state rates.
Our colleague at WUSF and Off The Base, Bobbie O'Brien, wrote about what else is in the bill -- including scholarships for Florida National Guard members -- when Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill in April:
That’s what lawmakers hope as well. So the new law includes other “military friendly provisions”:
- $1.5 million in scholarships for Florida National Guard members
- $12.5 million to renovate and upgrade National Guard facilities
- $7.5 million to buy land surrounding MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, and Naval Support Activity in Panama City.
- It waives state professional licensing fees for veterans up to five years after discharge.
- It grants a waiver to active-duty military family members, spouses and dependents, so they don’t have to obtain a Florida drivers license to get a job or attend public schools in the state.
- It establishes Florida Is For Veterans, a new nonprofit corporation, to promote the hiring of veterans and to get veterans to move to the state.
- It also requires the state’s tourism arm, Visit Florida, to spend $1 million a year marketing to veterans.
- It establishes the Florida Veterans’ Walk of Honor and Florida Veterans’ Memorial Garden in Tallahassee.
Another law kicking in Tuesday will tweak the state's grading formula for schools.
While state officials say they are simplifying the grades, the changes aren't that dramatic. The new formula relies more on test results and whether student test scores are improving. And the high school formula eliminates points for "college readiness."
For a more detailed explanation of the changes, check out what we wrote when Education Commissioner Pam Stewart proposed the changes in January.