Sequester cuts impact veterans' education - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Sequester cuts impact veterans' education

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - The list of programs and people affected by the automatic spending cuts lengthens. 

Tuition assistance from all but one branch of the military will no longer be available to college-bound veterans.

"I've been in the Wisconsin Army National Guard since 2006," says UW-Stout Veteran Certifying Official John Bensend.

But now some of the benefits earned through that service are on the chopping block.

"This, to me, is one of the unintended consequences of this sequestration," says Eau Claire County Veterans Service Officer Clif Sorenson.

Tuition assistance used to pay $250 per semester hour for active and reserve soldiers with a maximum of $4,500 a year.

"It was important in the budgeting process for myself and trying to figure out how much my expenditures are going to be and then plan for future semesters as well," says Bensend.

Student soldiers will have to redraft those plans for upcoming semesters.

"So now all of the sudden they're trying to scramble or figure out a new way that they're going to pay for college," says Bensend.

"Those who can't find alternatives, they'll have to stop their education," says Sorenson.

Fortunately in Wisconsin alternatives are available.

"Each of these different programs has a different eligibility criteria that says, 'If you did this you're eligible, or you're only eligible for this much.'  It can be confusing and quite a bit to navigate through," says Bensend.

Veterans services helps you find your bearings and secure benefits.

"Especially now where jobs are not plentiful.  Where you're investing in yourself for the future.  So it's important that you invest in education," says Sorenson.

For some qualifying veterans this investment doesn't even cost dollars and cents.

"The state of Wisconsin does have free tuition at the UW System and the technical colleges.  For veterans," says Sorenson.

So they can continue their careers both in uniform and in the classroom.

The Navy is the only branch still offering tuition assistance at this time, but it is reviewing making the cut.  It is important to note:  Federal GI bills and state programs for veterans' education are still available. 

If you have questions about what's available, please contact your local veterans' service office.

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