Updated: May 13, 2013 2:13AM
GURNEE — With the effects of sequestration hitting federal student aid to military members, Columbia College of Missouri says announced it will defer upcoming tuition payments from service personnel while they seek other financing options.
The deferments are intended for the term starting March 25 and will run until April 26. The college, which offers local classes in an office building on Tri-State Parkway, will also institute extended payment plans and allow affected students to withdraw from the upcoming term without penalty if they are unable to secure alternate funding.
“This is an opportunity to show our military students how much we value their service to our country as we support the goal of higher education for all,” Mike Lederle, assistant dean for military and federal programs, said. “Columbia College has been a leader in military education since 1973, and we will continue to serve our service member students and assist them during this period of transition.”
According to Columbia officials, the departments of the Navy, Army and Homeland Security announced in early March that students would have to use federal or personal funds if they were not currently utilizing tuition assistance offered by their branches of service. The school reported that cuts to tuition assistance are already affecting members of the Army, National Guard, Marines, Coast Guard and Reserves.
In order to be eligible for a deferment, students must first be eligible for military tuition assistance and have a current Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFS) form on file. In those cases, tuition will be deferred until April 26, at which time students can withdraw without academic liability or begin a six-month payment plan.
Columbia officials reported that more than 8,500 military students received tuition assistance in 2011 to attend courses offered by the school nationwide and on military bases.