Group of military veterans sues trustees of several Missouri universities | St. Louis Public Radio

Group of military veterans sues trustees of several Missouri universities

Feb 15, 2011

A group of military veterans has sued several Missouri educational institutions, alleging that they were systematically overcharged, the Riverfront Times reports.

The Times explains that the alleged systematic overcharging at the University of Missouri, Southeast Missouri State University and Moberly Area Community College would violate the Missouri Returning Heroes Act.

The Times states that that the act decrees  "all combat veterans who were Missouri residents at the time they entered the military, received honorable discharges and maintained 2.5 grade-point averages should be charged no more than $50 per credit hour."

But that's not the entire situation at hand here. The Times explains:

The issue here is that the vets believe their tuition should be discounted first, and then their federal grants should be applied to the rest of their bill, which includes room and board. The universities, however, have apparently been applying the federal grants to the total bill -- then, if the student still owes anything for tuition, discounting that to $50 a credit hour.

Since tuition is only 40 percent of the cost of attending college, the net effect is that veterans' federal grants canceled out any savings from the Heroes Act -- and then they were left with a giant bill for room and board like any normal college-attending Schmoe, with no grant money left to cover it...

But it's worth noting that even the law quoted in the suit suggests that the universities may be following the state's intent. The law specifically states that the reduced tuition "shall be provided after all other federal and state aid ... has been applied."

The group hopes that the suit will be certified as a class action, allowing all veterans using the program since 2008 to be eligible for damages. And how many people is that? It could be as many as 8,000, the Times says.