Tenn. Student Soldiers Hit by Federal Budget Impasse

Mar 18, 2013

Vistors try out the new indoor ROTC firing range simulator on the MTSU campus in early February.
Credit mtsunews.com

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. --  Tennessee’s student soldiers and the universities they attend are facing a loss of tuition assistance as a result of the ongoing federal budget impasse in Washington.

Hundreds of Tennessee Army National Guardsmen are scrambling to find the money to stay in school after the federal tuition assistance program they relied on was discontinued March 8.

Tennessee Military Department spokesman Randy Harris says 875 student soldiers are getting about $2.2 million in tuition assistance for the current school year. Assistance approved before March 8 for the current semester will be dispersed as promised.

However, if the impasse drags on federal tuition assistance will not be available for the new school year that begins this fall.

Malcolm Stollard is a Tennessee National Gaurdsmen serving with a Military Police unit headquartered in Lebanon. Stollard is also a student at Middle Tennessee State University and volunteers his time to help fellow soldiers at MTSU navigate the tangle of tuition assistance paperwork.

Stollard says a lot of student soldiers at MTSU are stressed about what’s going to happen this fall.

“So with this being taken away, a lot of National Guard and Reservists are not going to be able to go school because that pays a large portion of their school each year. So, we’re going to possibly see a lot of decrease in National Guard and Reservists in schools.”

Stollard says he’ll probably have to take out student loans and find a part time job to stay in school.  

The state’s universities will also feel the impact. The Tennessee Military Department says that the top eight schools in Tennessee received about $1 million in federal tuition assistance funds for student soldiers during the 2012 school year.

Middle Tennessee State will feel the most pain. MTSU says it currently has 109 student soldiers enrolled. In the 2012 school year, the Department of the Military says MTSU received more than $430,000 in federal tuition funds for its student soldiers.