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Published: Wednesday, 6/13/2007

Policy change grants in-state status to U-M student


MONROE - Joshua Guedesse, 20, originally was denied in-state tuition at the University of Michigan because his father was transferred to a military base in Illinois.

But after media attention and calls from state legislators, University of Michigan now has changed its decision and granted Mr. Guedesse residency status.

State Rep. Kate Ebli (D., Monroe) is pushing legislation to protect children of active duty military personnel from similarly being denied in-state tuition in the future.

And University of Michigan is examining its policies.

Currently, the university allows state residents who join the military to keep their residency status both for themselves and their dependents regardless of where they are stationed.

Non-Michigan military personnel and their dependents temporarily stationed in Michigan also are eligible under University of Michigan's policy to apply for a waiver that would allow them to receive in-state tuition.

Students must reapply for the temporary waiver every year, to prove that their military parents or spouse is still stationed in Michigan.

Non-Michigan military personnel and their dependents who leave the state after having been stationed in Michigan do not qualify for the waiver according to university policy.

"So the circumstances of the young man identified a gap in our guidelines and we are reviewing our policies," said Kelly Cunningham, a university spokesman.

But if the university's about-face with Mr. Guedesse is any indication, the university may soon mend the gap.

Mr. Guedesse graduated from Monroe High School and has just finished up two years at Monroe County Community College.

He has an apartment and works in Monroe.

After the U.S. Coast Guard last year transferred his father to Illinois, the University of Michigan no longer considered Mr. Guedesse eligible for the waiver.

The university costs $20,000 for residents and $40,000 for nonresidents.

After media scrutiny and calls from lawmakers and the university alumni board members, Mr. Guedesse received a letter saying he would receive the in-state rate.

Ms. Ebli said next week she likely will invite Mr. Guedesse to Lansing and submit a piece of legislation to the House floor encouraging public universities to change their in-state tuition policies regarding military families.

She said she will attach the legislation to an appropriations bill so that it would create a "legislative intent," which the judiciary sometimes uses when interpreting law.

"I want to make sure that we send a clear message to our state funded universities that we want fair treatment for our active military and their families," she said.

Contact Benjamin Alexander-Bloch at: babloch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6168 or 419-724-6089.

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