The suspension of the military’s tuition assistance program due to the partial government shutdown will cost Central Texas College millions of dollars.
According to a report presented to the college’s board of trustees on Thursday, CTC expects a $2 million to $3 million loss in revenue due to the suspension of the federal program, which pays tuition costs for active-duty service members.
The program was suspended Oct. 1. when gridlocked lawmakers in Congress triggered a partial shutdown of the federal government.
The shutdown occurred as the college was preparing to begin courses at its campuses around the world in places like Europe and East Asia, and at domestic military installations such as Fort Hood, Fort Knox, Ky., and others.
Some of those classes started this week, forcing military students to either pay out-of-pocket, or skip the eight-week sessions altogether in the absence of tuition assistance.
Speaking to the trustees Thursday, Diana Castillo, CTC’s quality control liaison for continental and international campus operations, said the suspension of tuition assistance Oct. 1-16 impacted hundreds of service members wanting to take courses, and caused a 26 percent drop in enrollment from the same time a year ago.
While Congress voted to end the shutdown Wednesday, the government contractor in charge of managing the tuition assistance program has yet to get the system up and running again, meaning soldiers still cannot pay for courses under the program even though the shutdown is technically over.
Castillo said the college has 667 new courses scheduled to begin Monday at sites around the world. If the program is not reinstated before then, more than 1,018 military service members could potentially be affected, causing a revenue loss of between $4 million and $5 million for the college.
“The impact could be huge,” Castillo said.
College officials said late Thursday that the contractor in charge of managing the program informed the college it is accepting applications for tuition assistance for the Air Force. It anticipates to begin processing enrollments for the Army “soon,” but did not give an exact date or time.
“Things are changing minute by minute,” said Thomas Klincar, CTC’s chancellor.