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Congress reverses military tuition cuts

By Lindsay Blakely
On March 21, 2013

Congress voted to spare the Army's Tuition Assistance program on Thursday.
Tech's ROTC program received word of the pending cuts March 8. The measure would have affected 43 student-soliders at Tech.
According to Military.com, The Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard had announced the suspension of new enrollments for Tuition Assistance. The military would have been forced to cut $46 billion from their budget by Oct. 1. They advised those currently enrolled to find other funding for future courses.
"This specific cut was [being] made [as a result of] sequestration," Sgt. Maj. Jamie Clark said. "The suspension [was] expected to last until [Sept. 30] which is the end of the fiscal year."
The number of students at Tech receiving Tuition Assistance has dropped since fall 2012. There were over 50 students on campus last fall that received TA, which has now fallen to 43.  
"Our numbers show there were students who did not return to Tech possibly because they were called to duty, they graduated, or other unknown reasons," Beth Rogers, University Registrar said.
The Tennessee Army National Guard training facility in Smyrna, Tenn. said they were assisting soldier-students with finding any programs that they may be eligible for.
"We [were] sending out scholarship information to our students to give them avenues to continue to receive funding for tuition," Clark said. "TA was partial funding for most students. Soldier-students were eligible for a maximum amount of $4,500 annually, so this was not paying full tuition for the most part. Soldiers have other resources to help pay for school tuition such as the GI Bill, the GI Bill Kicker, along with other army-friendly scholarship programs."
Army National Guard Cadet, Nick White, said "Personally, I [would] have to find another way to pay for school." "Right now I don't pay to go to Tech out of my pocket, thanks to military assistance. I do have other options and I will still have my GI Bill which will help."
Clark said $3.5 million was funded for Tennessee Army National Guard soldier-students alone in 2012. He also said that $2.2 million has already been funded thus far in 2013. If soldier-students were approved for funding prior to March 8 they would have honored that funding.
According to the Huffington Post, 201,000 soldiers took advantage of the Army's TA program in the fiscal year 2012 nationwide. The program funded $373 million dollars to assist soldier-students. With Tuition Assistance funding, 2,831 soldiers earned associate degrees, 4,495 earned bachelor degrees and 1,946 earned graduate degrees.
Rogers is also the treasurer for the Tennessee Educational Association of Veteran Programs Administrators.
"These students have actually served for our country in one capacity or another and could be called to duty at any time," Rogers said.  "State schools are governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents and all fee adjustments must be approved by TBR but private scholarships could be offered to these students if they existed."
The Army Tuition Assistance program has been in affect since 2001. According to The White House website, a petition had been presented to reinstate military tuition assistance and block service branches from any further suspension.


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