Military students impacted by federal sequester cuts
Written by Kera Mashek, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
Jake Powers, a military veteran and UNI freshman
CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -
The impact of the federal spending cuts known as the sequester will soon be felt by many Iowa veterans and active service members attending college.
The Army and Marines are now slashing funding for the Tuition Assistance Program. It's separate from the GI Bill, but it's money that's helped provide hundreds of students the opportunity to get a degree.
Jake Powers is a military veteran, and freshman at the University of Northern Iowa. But before every stepping foot on campus, he completed a full semester's worth of college credit classes through the federal Tuition Assistance Program.
"I was stationed on the USS Ronald Reagan, and they'd actually bring instructors on board the ship during our deployments," Powers said. "The more classes you take, the better it looks on your evaluations. So it's just kind of a way to distinguish yourself."
But soon, some military students could lose out on those opportunities.
That's because two branches of the service will be cutting funds for federal tuition assistance, and other branches could follow suit.
"Education benefits are a huge incentive to join the military, and it's pretty sad to be seeing those benefits being taken away," said Powers.
About 30 students at UNI receive federal military tuition assistance money. Without that funding in place, their personal finance and education could be at risk.
"It reduces their loan costs and allows them to put their attention more on their studies," said Julia Heuer, UNI Military & Veteran Student Services coordinator. "So any time you're planning on having the funds, and you lose that, it can greatly impact the ability to finish class."
UNI's military and veteran student services department will work with students impacted by tuition assistance program cuts to help those affected find other financial aid to stay in school.
For Jake Powers, there's a bigger message for lawmakers to resolve the budget debate.
"I just believe that the government's got to do everything we can in order to support our troops that truly do and are willing to sacrifice their lives for our country, and that our government should reflect that and appreciate that sacrifice and do everything they can to help those individuals," Powers said.
The federal military Tuition Assistance Program gives students up to $4500 a year. Military students will continue to get that assistance through the end of this school year, but will likely lose out on funding for next year.
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