Military students scrambling to cover tuition after federal sequester cuts tuition aid
For many young people interested in serving their country, tuition assistance has been a great incentive. Active duty and military reservists were eligible for up to $4500 in college tuition assistance each year but as part of federal sequester cuts this month - that aid was eliminated. Now many servicemen and women are scrambling, trying to find funding that will allow them to stay in school.
"Veteran's unemployment is higher than the norm and denying the possibility of them getting some education while they are in is not going to help that picture," said Keith Stevenson from Onondaga Community College's Veteran's Program.
Stevenson says about thirty active military or reservists were receiving the assistance at OCC. At the Columbia College branch at Hancock Air Field outside Syracuse, about a quarter of the school's one thousand students have military connections. Spring classes begin next week and director Scott Vinciguerra says staff are now looking for ways to keep the active duty and reservist students enrolled.
"We've deferred our tuition from the March session which begins next week and we're working with our students on a payment plan so that down the road it can diminish some of that stress that comes along with it," said Vinciguerra.
There are other financial aid opportunities - but many military students feel the government has broken a contract they agreed to as part of the enlistment process.
"It's a tough time across the board and it seems to be a particular population that shouldn't bear the brunt of this," said Keith Stevenson from OCC.