Tuition assistance for active-duty members of the National Guard and military – temporarily suspended as part of the sequester – would be restored through the end of September under a temporary spending bill approved last week by Congress.
The move was applauded by financial aid administrators at West Michigan colleges and universities, who said that although a relatively small number of students qualify for the benefit, it remains an important way to help cover the cost of an education.
“It’s a huge help to them,” said Nicole Merritt, a student service representative at Ferris State University, where 40 students are currently using the benefit. “The students that use it definitely rely on it to supplement their tuition cost.”
The program annually provides service members up to $4,500.
Student advocates raised concerns when several branches of the armed services announced earlier this month that the program would no longer be accepting requests for assistance because of across-the-board suspending cuts known as the sequester.
But a stopgap spending bill approved last week by the U.S. House and Senate would restore funding for the program through the end of the 2013 fiscal year, Sept. 30. The legislation is expected to be signed by President Barack Obama.
That’s welcome news for administrators at Grand Rapids Community College, where 25 students are currently receiving assistance through the program, said Janice Holton, veterans benefits coordinator at the college.