Wichita Falls, TX-
Hundreds of Texomans getting a free college education are at risk of losing their funding. Veterans and their families get a free education through a program that lawmakers say is spiraling out of control.
The state made a promise to veterans to pay for their education and their families, but the program that pays for it, The Hazelwood Exemption Program, could be scaling back.
"Where it got a little out of align, if you will was in 2009 when the kids and spouses and they were able to pass on to others and the cost of that is really spiraling down out of control," said State Representative James Frank, District 69.
The cost went from $25 million a year to $169 million a year.
"The legislature at the time, essentially didn't pay the bill themselves and still are not paying the bill. We forced the state colleges and universities to pay it," said Frank.
Since the programs inception the state has mandated that public colleges and universities pay the bulk of the bill for these students.
Last year, 245 students at MSU qualified for The Hazelwood Program costing the university $1.24 million.
MSU President Jesse Rogers sent a letter to legislatures it read, "We are proud of the veterans and their family members who choose to attend the university. While the program greatly benefits our veterans and their dependents, the growth in the program participation has placed a financial burden on our institution."
Representative Frank supports the spirit of the program, but believes it has been poorly executed. He said the state could look into adding tougher qualifications to help bring down the cost.
"How long someone has served? Then giving four years college expenses to a kid for somebody who's served two years," said Frank.
The state covered $275,000 of the $1.24 million MSU had to shell out for veterans and their families last year.