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Leaders Set Up Fund for Soldiers

State lawmakers say they have the funds to keep the Missouri National Guards who lost federal tuition assistance in school, at least for the meantime. They announced Thursday they found $1.5 million in the general fund to create the Show-Me Heroes Education Fund designed to help offset tuition assistance cut by the federal government last week. Currently 905 members of the Army National Guard rely on the federal tuition assistance program to help fund their college courses, said Major Tammy Spicer on Thursday after the education fund was announced. Half of the money came from the higher education fund, said Rep. Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood), who thanked colleges and universities across Missouri that supported this emergency amendment to the budget that passed in the House on Wednesday. The other half came from cuts made to the transportation department, according to Rep. Marsha Haefner, who said this fund is by no means the full answer to the problem, and urges Congress to reinstate the program. An estimated $ 3.7 million of federal tuition assistance was utilized by Army soldiers with the Missouri National Guard the previous fiscal year, according to the Missouri House of Representatives press release. With more current soldiers using the federal assistance program, the gap between the education fund and assistance loss could be upwards $2 million. The education fund will still need to pass the Senate and get signed by Gov. Nixon before it can be effective. The goal is to stop the gap as service members apply for aid in the summer and fall.

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