Sequestration Slashes Scholarships for Children of Iraq and Afghanistan War Casualties and Military Members


"But now he's been told that he and hundreds of thousands of other active duty service members like him are on their own because Congress couldn't get their act together and resolve the sequestration mess," Harrison writes of her husband.

"I understand that the military budget needs to be cut because of sequestration, but education isn't the place to cut," she writes. "The amount spent on this program is a drop in the bucket for the government, but means so much to service members. It helps them while they are in the service and gives them a head start to find a job out in the civilian world."

Signers who said they were parents and spouses of military members echoed this sentiment.

"My son is in the Marine Corps and his desire is to go to college and get a degree in Criminal Justice when he gets out," wrote one signer who identified herself as Barbara Wing of North Platte, Neb. "He is serving this country for less money than he could earn otherwise and honestly, this was one of the reasons that he enlisted, to have help with college."

The Navy is the only branch of the military that has not yet cut tuition assistance, but Vice Adm. Scott R. Van Buskirk, chief of Naval Personnel, told a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee last week that his office is "reassessing" the program. He requested Congress enact the 2013 Defense Appropriations bill and give the Navy more power to transfer funds between accounts.

"Sustaining discretionary cap reductions through 2021 would fundamentally change the Navy as currently organized, trained and equipped, and drive further reductions in end strength and implementations of force management tools that break faith with our all-volunteer force," Van Buskirk said at the hearing.

Tingley indicated that there are avenues outside of what the Air Force once provided for airmen to fund their education. In addition to providing study materials that could help service members pass tests for college credit, Tingley predicted many would be eligible for grants or stipends.

The Pell Grant program is exempt from sequestration cuts, but OMB reported $86 million would be cut from the Student Financial Assistance office. Fees on Direct Loans received after March 1 increased by 5.1 percent.

Several colleges and universities have responded to the loss of military grants by offering scholarships for active duty students, the Huffington Post first reported.

Southern New Hampshire University is offering scholarships to all active duty military students for the upcoming graduate and undergraduate semesters, a decision born out of the university's high military enrollment in online classes, SNHU announced.

Park University announced last week it will offer "Emergency Military Scholarships" that provide full tuition assistance to active-duty students who don't qualify for Pell Grants, the GI bill or federal loans. Several military publications ranked Park the number 2 school for veterans in the country for 2013.

"I am proud to lead an organization that has taken these strides to ensure our active duty military students' educational needs are met during these difficult times," Park University President Michael H. Droge wrote in a statement announcing the scholarships.

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