• October 2, 2014

Army slashes tuition funds

Assistance program helps more than 11,700 soldiers at Fort Hood

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Posted: Saturday, March 9, 2013 4:30 am

The Army announced Friday the suspension of its tuition assistance program, which helps active-duty soldiers pay for college courses and other education opportunities.

Soldiers will no longer be permitted to submit new requests for tuition assistance, according to an Army statement. The suspension applies to active-duty soldiers in all components of the Army, including the Army Reserve and National Guard. Soldiers enrolled in approved tuition assistance courses will be allowed to complete current course enrollment.

At Fort Hood, more than 11,700 soldiers participate in the program at a cost of $4.8 million a year, according to the post’s public affairs office. Suspending the program is one of the military’s attempts to cope with steep automatic budget cuts, or sequestration, which began March 1. The Marine Corps suspended its tuition assistance program earlier this week.

“This suspension is necessary given the significant budget execution challenges caused by the combined effects of a possible year-long continuing resolution and sequestration,” according to the statement. “The Army understands the impacts of this action and will re-evaluate should the budgetary situation improve.”

Army-wide, $373 million was provided to more than 201,000 soldiers pursuing education in fiscal year 2012. The program allowed nearly 4,500 soldiers to earn a bachelor’s degree.

In the interim, soldiers can continue to access their GI Bill benefits or use funding from other sources such as grants, scholarships or state tuition assistance if they are available, according to Fort Hood officials.

The tuition assistance program was created to help active-duty military complete a high school diploma, certificate program or college degree. The program allows the Army to pay 100 percent of the tuition and fees charged by a participating school up to $250 per credit hour, or $4,500 per year.

Local impact

The program’s suspension could have a major impact on area colleges such as Central Texas College and Texas A&M University-Central Texas. Randy McCauley, a spokesman for A&M-Central Texas, said about 47 percent of its students were military affiliated, but not all are active-duty soldiers.

“Our staff is here to assist in any way we can, and help students find out what options they have,” he said.

Central Texas College not only serves members of the military at its Killeen campus, but also has campuses at Fort Hood and at military installations overseas.

Chancellor Thomas Klincar said CTC would see a downturn in enrollment for its upcoming eight-week sessions because any student who hadn’t yet registered would not be able to enroll using tuition assistance.

“This was a very sudden action, and our focus today was on developing ways that we can assist these students,” Klincar said Friday. “Worldwide, our staff is standing by to assist students with financial aid and veterans benefit applications.”

If the program is suspended when CTC begins to register students for upcoming semesters, the consequences could be severe.

“If the issue is not resolved before the next enrollment period, it will be a crisis for Central Texas College and all colleges who serve a large military student population,” Klincar said. “The larger issue, however, is the blow to the soldier-students. Taking soldiers’ tuition assistance is a broken promise to the same soldiers we expect to defend us.”

Killeen Daily Herald Military Editor Rose L. Thayer contributed to this report.

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3 comments:

  • sabot7 posted at 12:19 pm on Sun, Mar 10, 2013.

    sabot7 Posts: 7

    i'm a 22 year retired soldier and i can recall not having this service when i entered the Army. i think it was a good thing, i received a BS from the program without using any other services. i can also recall using Pell Grants in the past to help offset the soft, but the point i'm trying to make is now that this is cut, i don't see it returning in the future. As a nation and military we are going to have to cut programs, this program can be cut and the soldiers will have to get used to using the old ways, grants, student loans, or the GI Bill. it will not hurt, but i understand how hard it feels to have a program go away that you get used to having. i also fell we need to go back to the draft, i know a lot of people are tired of hearing this, but with only 1% of the population ever serving in the military, this is a shame. the future of the military will depend on this as we cut spending and benefits, the volunteer force will seek employment and benefits at some other occupation. the draft would allow for the service to keep from deploying over and over the same ole soldiers and possibly prevent more broken families. i deployed twice before i retired, 15 months and 12 month, i know others who have been deployed 6-times, divorced and feel the army is all they have now and thats a shame. It's time to get the draft, get the country involved, we are heading to hard times and it is just not fair for the volunteer force to keep shouldering the pain for america. i'm proud to have served, proud of my soldiers and these soldiers today, i just feel it's time for the rest of america to follow.

     
  • Eliza posted at 9:27 am on Sat, Mar 9, 2013.

    Eliza Posts: 786

    @ If parents neglected their own children by helping others, what would happen then...

    You have a good point there.
    I was taught,1st we take care of our own,THEN if anything is left over we can talk about helping others.
    By suddenly taking away something that the U.S. military had thought was one of their earned benefits, but continuing to finance countries whose military's have been confrontational toward our own country, is not only a foolish decision, but puts the U.S. in a dangerous situation.

     
  • Proud Mother of an Army Avi8er posted at 6:38 am on Sat, Mar 9, 2013.

    Proud Mother of an Army Avi8er Posts: 234

    I understand that cuts need to be made.

    Will our government leaders in Washington be taking a pay cut and a freeze on their future pay raises? Cuts should start from the top down.

    Why is the US still sending money, we don't have, to aid other countries.
    If parents neglected their own children by helping others, what would happen then...

    United We Stand...Divided We Fall

     

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