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May 17, 5:40 PM EDT

Wis. Bill to Give Free Tuition to Veterans


Associated Press Writer

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin veterans would be eligible for free tuition at University of Wisconsin campuses and the state's technical colleges under a bill Gov. Jim Doyle is expected to sign.

The Wisconsin measure expands a program that started this school year in which the state pays half of tuition and fees for Wisconsin veterans and the full cost for spouses and family members of soldiers killed in action.

Starting in fall 2007, many of the state's estimated 464,000 veterans will be eligible for full-tuition waivers at the state's 26 UW campuses and 16 technical colleges. At least two other states - Texas and Illinois - have similar programs, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The University of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Technical College System warned they may have to charge other students higher tuition to cover the estimated $9 million annual cost.

Scott Kruchten, 31, who was wounded in a roadside bombing that killed four fellow Marines in Iraq in 2004, is already using the 50 percent discount to study Middle Eastern studies and political science at UW-Madison.

"For injured service members in Wisconsin, having the law cover 100 percent of tuition dramatically affects how much money we have to survive on when we go back to school," said Kruchten, who broke a leg, two ribs and a shoulder in the explosion.

Doyle had been scheduled to sign the bill on Saturday at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in Union Grove, but the signing was delayed because the governor will attend a funeral for a Wisconsin soldier killed in Iraq, his office said.

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