FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 05/27/2015
Preservation of the Hazlewood Benefit for Texas Veterans is a Priority for the Texas House of Representatives
The Texas House of Representatives recently considered significant reform to the educational benefit for veterans known as the Hazlewood exemption. Established in 1923, the Hazlewood exemption provides veterans with waived tuition and fees for up to 150 credit hours at Texas public institutions of higher education. In 2009, the Texas Legislature voted to provide veterans with the ability to pass any unused hours to their children, known as legacies.
While intended as a great promise to our veterans and in recognition of their great sacrifice, the number of legacy students has increased dramatically over the past six years, creating financial instability for our universities and colleges, and which places the entire program in jeopardy. In addition, a recent federal ruling states that Hazlewood's residency requirement is unconstitutional, which could signify an expansion that would open the door to any veteran and their dependents, regardless of their state of residency.
As it came to the Texas House, Senate Bill 1735 contained provisions that sought to narrow the eligibility for the legacy portion for Hazlewood in order to preserve the benefit for veterans. It is not easy to contemplate reforming a benefit that has always been intended for Texas veterans, a group that is one of our state's greatest resources and for which we have the highest respect and appreciation. Despite this challenge, it was our responsibility to look at ways to rescue this program, particularly as it remains an unfunded mandate to our public universities and colleges.
Although the legislative debate on this issue is not yet finished, it is clear that the Texas House is committed to preserving the Hazlewood benefit. The House version of SB 1735 only addresses the federal court ruling by establishing a new residency requirement to ensure that only Texas veterans have access to the benefit.
Beyond this session, we look forward to working with our colleagues, veteran stakeholders, and other interested parties on identifying additional ways in which the state can ensure the program's sustainability. We are wholly committed to protecting this benefit for veterans, past and present.
Contact: Courtney Hjaltman