Budget cuts suspend tuition aid for Oregon Guard
SALEM — The automatic federal budget cuts that started taking effect this month have put a hold on a college-tuition aid program for the National Guard, cutting off assistance to 350 members in the Oregon Guard.
The Guard says 47 more soldiers were enrolled for class before the aid was cut off, but their benefits might not last past the spring term if the cuts remain in effect, KATU-TV reported.
Oregon soldiers received more than $2 million in tuition assistance in the last fiscal year.
“It's an incentive program,” said Capt. Stephen Bomar, spokesman for the Oregon National Guard. “It's not a guarantee; it's not a part of people's contracts.”
He called the suspension disappointing and testified to the program's importance.
“It paid for a good part of my master's degree program, and I truly appreciate it,” Bomar says. “And I probably wouldn't have pursued that as far had I not had that opportunity.”
Guard Capt. Van Zallee is a business consultant in his day job and wants to earn a master's in business administration. But if he can't get the assistance, going to school is “not an option.”
“I've got kids that are in school. My wife is working,” Zallee said. “We're trying right now to make sure that we've got enough to cover those bills.”
Bomar said the Guard is pointing soldier-students to other options, such as the GI Bill and other military assistance, student loans, scholarships and federal student assistance programs such as Pell grants and other aid.
Information from: KATU-TV, http://www.katu.com/