Military students losing tuition assistance - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Military students losing tuition assistance due to sequestration

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AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) -

Lieutenant Colonel Keith Cantrell has been an active duty soldier for 21 years; he also has a Master's degree that the Army paid for.

"The Army paid 100% of my tuition; I paid for the books, so that gave me the opportunity to receive a Master's degree," Cantrell, said.

He paid for his education using Military Tuition Assistance.

According to Fort Gordon officials, the Army handed out $373 million in tuition assistance to active duty soldiers across the United States in 2012.

In Georgia, the Army paid up to $250 a credit hour or $4,500 a year to soldiers in school.

Now every branch of the military, except for the Navy, said they are suspending their tuition assistance program because of the forced spending cuts.

Jeff Foley was the commanding general at Fort Gordon for three years, now he's the Vice President of Military Affairs at Georgia Regents University.

He says their students using tuition assistance will soon have to find other ways to fund their education.

"We have 68 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines going to school here under the umbrella of tuition assistance and they will be impacted," said Foley.

The students won't lose their financial aid until the end of the semester. Foley says they are working to find a solution before then that will offset the effects of the suspension.

"We're looking right now at other ways, how can we reach out to those guys? Are there other funding sources, are there other foundation opportunities?" asked Foley.

Foley hasn't found answers to those questions yet; but he says he will keep working to find financial alternatives for our soldiers because he knows their options right now aren't good.

"The options are you pay your own way, these are full time men and women in uniform, or you don't go to school," Foley, said.

Cantrell hopes soldiers will stay in school until the military solves the problem.

"Stay firm, stay committed, the military will find a way," Cantrell, said.

There are several ways soldiers can pay for their education without help from Military Tuition Assistance.

Fort Gordon officials say soldiers can use the Montgomery GI Bill benefits as well as the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Soldiers can also apply for federal grants and federal aid.

Georgia does not provide state assistance to soldiers working toward a degree.

Foley says it will be at least six months before the Department of Defense will make a decision about restoring military tuition assistance.

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