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About 100 Drury Active Military Students See Their Tuition Dollars Vanish With Shutdown

Active military students hoping to enroll in Drury's B-Block classes, which start next week, are seeking alternative funding...or dropping their classes altogether.
(Photo credit: Jim Legans, Jr. via flickr)

Because of the federal government shutdown, some active duty military students cannot get the tuition assistance they rely on to pay for college. Several have already dropped their classes. As KSMU’s Jennifer Davidson reports, Drury University is trying to help.

"Tuition Assistance" is not the same as the GI Bill tuition, which is usually for veterans who are out of the military…and as of now, GI Bill benefits are still covered.

“Tuition Assistance” is a benefit awarded to active duty service men and women.

“Right now, Tuition Assistance is completely down. And if it doesn’t come up before the classes begin, Tuition Assistance is not retroactive,” said Kricket Webster, director of Drury’s St. Robert and Ft. Leonard Wood campuses.

About 100 active military students those campuses are directly affected, Webster said.  Many have served time in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they’re shaking their heads as at how this could happen.   

Drury is deferring payment for its active military students who had hoped to start up in Drury’s B-Block classes, which start next week. Here’s Drury’s Kricket Webster.

“Tuition Assistance is, in their minds, is kind of an entitlement…you know, something they receive that they’re entitled to.  And so some of them are saying, ‘Well, that’s great, and I appreciate what you’re trying to do.  So some of them are dropping, because they’re afraid they’re gonna have to pick up the tab,” Webster said.

She says about a dozen active military students have dropped classes because they couldn’t find alternate funding for their upcoming classes.

“A lot of them, you know, are nervous. So we’re trying to make sure they’ve exhausted all other avenues of support that they have. Because some of them are just unaware that there are other options,” Webster said.

The problem is, she said, an officer or specialist without a family makes too much to qualify for a Pell Grant, so they’re left with a tuition bill the government promised them it would pay.

For those who can’t find other financial help, Drury will offer an extended payment plan.

They’ll at least be able to delay their payments, with the first payment due in December…that’s if these active duty soldiers and airmen can scrape together the money.

For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Davidson.