Editorial

    While most UC students are looking at the first fee increase in eight years, a California Assembly bill could allow members of the California National Guard and military reserves a huge break in the cost of tuition — a yearly tuition rate of $780.

    Authored by Assemblywoman Carol Liu (D-La Canada Flintridge), the bill would serve both to reward National Guard and reserve members and to facilitate recruitment. In addition to the discounted fee, the bill proposes that students called into active duty during the school year be reimbursed for fees and campus housing costs. Currently, California is one of only three states that does not already offer benefits to students who have served.

    The bill has its merits. It wouldn’t place that much of a strain on the state budget and would reward students who certainly deserve some kind of compensation for their service.

    The policy has a some validity in its extension of scholastic rewards to officers. The current process does not provide any kind of reward to those soldiers who have proved themselves worthy of an elevated office. Previously, once individuals became officers, they would lose their education benefit packages, which were intended as recruitment tools for lower-enlisted members.

    Even in an establishment where officers are enlisted separately from the standard ranks, it should not be a punishment to serve as an officer. Indeed, that position is one that should be viewed with encouragement, as a reward for excellent service rather than a detriment to a career outside the military.

    But for all that this bill offers, it could be made a lot more sensible. Perhaps instead of herding students into a particular academic path, such as the University of California, they could be allowed to attend the school of their choice using a voucher system instead of a discount.

    The waiver system will give discharged National Guard and reserve members the right to choose their own educational establishment. As long as individuals are qualified to attend, they should be allowed the freedom to select a school for themselves. As it is, the content of this bill does not match its concept.

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