Since their founding in the 19th century, California’s public colleges and universities have been tuition free for in-state students. For the last several decades, however, “tuition free” has been a hoax.

Over the course of the 20th century legislators and administrators imposed more and more new fees on California’s students, and in the 1960s and after those fees grew to match the tuition charged at other states’ universities. No politician wanted to be responsible for “ending free tuition” in the state, though, so today students pay nearly $4500 a semester in fees — including a $3130 “Educational Fee” — instead.

This kind of political cowardice is usually just annoying, but every once in a while it actually causes measurable harm to students, and right now is one of those times.

Congress passed a new GI Bill earlier this spring that pays the tuition of US veterans. The bill covers the full cost of tuition and fees at public institutions, and uses public tuition and fee rates to determine reimbursement rates for privates.

And yes, the tuition and fee rates are calculated separately.

So if you’re a California veteran and you get accepted to Stanford, the GI Bill will cover none of your $24,020 tuition. It will, however, cover all of your $84 student government fee. (In fact, it’ll cover up to $6,586.54 in fees every semester, far more than Stanford charges any student.)

There’s an effort underway to change the law, but no real movement yet.