A popular program that allows military service members to pay for their education was suspended due to the partial shutdown of the federal government.

A statement Tuesday on the GoArmyEd website announced that tuition assistance for classes starting Oct. 1 is suspended until further notice.

The tuition assistance program was created to help active-duty service members complete a high school diploma, certificate program or college degree, providing them up to $4,500 per year for tuition.

According to the statement, all approved and pending tuition assistance requests for classes scheduled to start on or after Oct. 1 will be denied until either a budget or a continuing resolution is approved by Congress and signed by the president.

Central Texas College

Cutting off tuition assistance will impact colleges and universities with large populations of military students, such as Central Texas College.

“Our hope is for a quick resolution,” said Thomas Klincar, the college’s chancellor. “Our government is breaking a promise to these military students who have defended our country over multiple deployments in the past 10 years. Those who are now home and focused on their education are getting the rug pulled out from under them with this news.”

The college, which was recently ranked No. 3 on the top 10 list of most popular schools chosen by active-duty soldiers who use tuition assistance to pay for their higher education, serves military students in Killeen and at Fort Hood, as well as locations in Europe, East Asia and the Middle East.

Barbara Merlo, a college spokeswoman, confirmed Tuesday that CTC has classes starting after Oct. 1 — including at its Fort Hood campus — with more classes slated to begin further down the line.

“This obviously would have a huge impact on us, and as time goes by and we pass other locations and online start dates, it would become larger,” Merlo said.

While the tuition assistance program for active-duty military is on hold, the fate of other education benefits for veterans is still up in the air.

According to information from the Veterans Affairs website, claims processing and payments for compensation, pension, education and vocational rehabilitation programs are anticipated to continue through late October. However, in the event of a prolonged shutdown, claims processing and payments for those programs would be suspended when available funding is exhausted.

That could include benefits under the Post 9-11 GI Bill.

“We have a huge number of Post 9-11 GI Bill students, including family members who have had the benefit transferred to them,” Merlo said.

Temple college

A statement to veteran students at Temple College echoed a similar sentiment.

“There is some information that should the shutdown continue for a prolonged time, that there would be benefit issues as funds become exhausted,” said Stephen Phelps, Temple College’s Veterans Affairs coordinator. “There is no active guidance on what would be impacted first or when these funds would become exhausted to an extent that it would impact them.”

VetSuccess on Campus program

Other veterans education services impacted by the shutdown include suspension of the VetSucess on Campus program, which provides VA staff on college campuses to assist veteran students. Both Central Texas College and Texas A&M University-Central Texas participate in the VetSucess initiative.

A&M-Central Texas spokesman Randy McCauley said Tuesday that the university’s Soldier Development Center at Fort Hood would remain open, and all A&M-Central Texas courses will continue as scheduled.

Contact Chris McGuinness at chrism@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

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