Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is opening his state colleges' doors to veterans, who will be able to attend Ohio universities free starting Aug. 2009, The Columbus Dispatch reports.

Strickland, a Democrat, announced the plan Tuesday, catapulting off Congress' recent passage of a new GI Bill to increase college benefits to veterans and their families.

Strickland said he supports veteran recruiting to potentially increase the number of skilled workers in the state, and believes it is a means to repopulate areas of the state hit by large military deployments, the paper noted.

The plan, called "The Ohio GI Promise," is an effort to attract 230,000 more students to Ohio by 2017.

“Who better to have as part of Ohio’s colleges and universities, work force and communities than the veterans who have served, led and protected our country,” Strickland said.

Ohio is first state to grant benefits to veterans outside the state, the paper noted. Families of veterans who become “Honorary Ohioans” can pay in-state tuition costs and in some cases attend for free.

Click here to read the full report in The Columbus Dispatch.