Vincennes University will have fewer active-duty servicemen taking classes as a result of the federal sequestration.
Tuesday the U.S. Air Force suspended ability of airmen to apply for college tuition stipends. Last week both the Marine Corps and the Army suspended their participation in the tuition assistance program, with the Coast Guard following suit earlier this week.
The Navy is expected to suspend its participation this week, officials say.
“Cutting tuition assistance hurts service members as they seek to better themselves and as they seek employment when their service is complete,” said VU’s military education program director Matt Schwartz. “Assistance to obtain a college education while they’re serving also adds to the service member’s ability to obtain a promotion while in the military.
“It allows them a stronger foundation for success when they get out,” he said. “And now they’ve cut a benefit that has been extended to them for nearly 20 years. That’s significant, and it’s something I see as a veteran myself as a significant loss for these service members.”
The military education program allows service members to use their tuition assistance while they’re serving on active duty, no mater where they are in the world.
“We have programming at about 42 locations nationally, from Georgia to Seattle,” Schwartz said. “We work with all of the branches, and we have a contract with the Navy to send CD-based courses on deployed ships and we have a face-to-face contract with the Coast Guard where we actually send a faculty member out to deploy with them when they go.
“Since 1987 we’ve worked with over 20,000 service members worldwide from distance education to face-to-face courses,” he added. “We’ve had students taking classes with us through our online program while they’re in Iraq and Afghanistan, or wherever they are in the world.”
Service member students will have the ability to use their Post 911 GI Bill, a fund set up to assist veteran’s returning to the workforce, but that’s an option that has many limitations, Schwartz said. Many service members generally attempt to save those funds for use after service.
“It’s a great benefit, but it’s one that was designed to be used after a person gets out,” he explained. “And that’s the unfortunate thing about this cut, they have to use the benefits earlier than they should. It absolutely adds limitations to their education.”
Schwartz hopes effects of the sequestration will be minor on the VU community, noting it would be a huge loss if it lasted too long.