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Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris speaks about the conclusion of the legislative session at a news conference at the state Capitol in Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday, April 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)
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State Sen. Todd Gardenhire

NASHVILLE -- State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, and Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, will be among speakers on Friday marking the designation of Chattanooga State Community College as a VETS Campus, which recognizes the school's support of veteran students.

Norris sponsored the Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Act which encourages college enrollment of veterans and seeks to remove barriers impeding their success in graduating.

Other speakers at the event are Chattanooga State President Dr. Flora Tydings, Bill Wright, president of Chattanooga State's Veterans Club and Dr. Russ Deaton, interim executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, 

The new law creates a statewide support structure that offers in-state tuition rates for veterans and assistance for those needing support. Under the legislation, veterans enrolling within 24 months of discharge immediately receive the in-state tuition rate when starting college classes, eliminating the issue of residency for those relying on GI Bill benefits.

To maintain in-state status and rates, veterans have one year to present proof of established residency, such as a driver's license, motor vehicle registration or proof of employment. Registering to vote also fulfills the requirement.

The act creates a "VETS Campus" designation to recognize and promote schools that make veteran enrollment a priority. Higher education institutions that satisfy veteran-friendly criteria, such as specialized orientation and the availability of mentoring programs, can receive the designation.

Chattanooga State Community College is the 12th college to receive the designation.

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