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Active Airmen Lose College Aid

Another military branch makes cuts following the loss of millions because of sequester.The Air Force announced Tuesday it is immediately suspending the tuition assistance program for its airman. They are following the footsteps of the Marine Core, Army, and the Coast Guard who made the same cuts last week. ABC 17 News crews met with military leaders at the University of Missouri and Columbia College. Many people rely on this money for school, so this means they need to find the finances somewhere else or simply take a break from college.”They put on the uniform every day and they go out there and some pay the ultimate price,” said Mike Lederle who is the Assistant Dean for Military and Federal Programs at Columbia College.Its price not all students are willing to risk, but now those who do are getting less in return. “Military tuition assistance is key to our service members continuing their education or meeting their education goals,” said Lederle.ABC 17 News asked Commander of the University of Missouri Air Force ROTC, Lt. Colonel Wayne Doherty, if this would be detrimental for students. He said “It potentially could be financially detrimental, make their goal of getting a college degree that much harder to come by.” For both Lederle and Doherty the assistance program paid for part of their education. Now as they work with students who serve they hope this won’t block the way for those who follow.”They would have to consider other sources of money, potentially Pell grants, traditional student loans, some if they have already earned G.I. Bill benefits,” said Doherty.”Tuition assistance used to be their primary way to pay for college, now they just have to pursue other avenues,” said Commander Michael Bastain who is the Executive Officer of Naval ROTC.The Navy has yet to suspend it’s tuition assistance, but officials said it’s likely right around the corner. Something some fear will hinder recruiting. “It is a pretty big thing that’s being taken away, a big incentive for people to enter the military for,” said Bastain.”Maybe a reason why somebody is currently serving or may continue to serve or extend on to serve another enlistment,” said Doherty.Military leaders said these cuts are no surprise with the sequester going on in Washington, however they admit they may be a shock to the students using the money. While military officials hope the assistance isn’t gone forever, they do plan to help all the students as much as they can. Again, service members have other financial options. Columbia College is now offering six month payment plan with no money down, to service members who would have gotten the tuition assistance. As long as students start payments in the first five weeks, they will have half a year to finish paying.

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