Oklahoma GI Bill Approved By Senate - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Oklahoma GI Bill Approved By Senate

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ARDMORE, OK -- Unanimously approved by the Oklahoma senate, a proposed bill would help provide financial aid for higher education to certain veterans.

Veterans who served in Iraq, believe Senate Bill 1223 would help many.

"Especially with the fact that there's a lot of vets coming back that are obviously 100 percent disabled or not coming back at all," said Gerald Pine, an Air Force veteran and student at Southern Oklahoma Technology Center. "Then they don't have to worry about whether or not the kid is going to be able to afford going to school."

Also known as the 9/11 GI Bill, SB 1223 would provide free tuition to any veteran either killed, or declared 100 percent disabled since September 11, 2001.  

The bill would also provide the same assistance to those veterans families. The funds could be used at any Oklahoma technology center, college, or university.

"I think it is a way for us to show our gratitude for their dedication and for their service to our country," said Senator Frank Simpson, the author of the bill.

A provision in the bill says all other federal education assistance would have to be used up before the GI bill funds could apply.

"It is required they exhaust those benefits before the state benefits would kick in," said Simpson.

Administrators at Southern Oklahoma Technology Center favor the piece of legislation.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for them to take advantage of the technical training that's going to feed right into the job and the great job opportunities," said Jane Huffman, assistant superintendent at the tech center.

Simpson says the bill has already received favorable consideration in the house but expects it to be returned to the senate due to it's fiscal impact.

"Our goal is to keep it as low as possible but yet still provide a level of benefit," said Simpson.

Simpson says the bill also includes provisions for any veteran receiving the federal GI bill that would allow them to pay in-state tuition.

Senate Bill 1223 now moves to the house for further consideration.