What does the most recent legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President meant to Saint Leo students who are active-duty service members?
Last week, the House passed a stopgap spending bill that averted the government shutdown that had been looming before us. HR 933, which has been re-named the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, includes two amendments. One of these amendments, the Hagen-Inhofe amendment, reinstates tuition assistance for active-duty military that was cut as a result of budget sequestrations. It has now been signed into law.
Will tuition assistance be re-instated in full?
No one knows that yet. Prior to the automatic cuts of sequestration, the annual cap on total payments per student was $4,500. Service personnel chiefs will be re-evaluating tuition assistance programs. At this point, we don't have a lot of details including the amount of any potential reductions in Tuition Assistance.
Now that the bill has been signed, how quickly can I receive Tuition Assistance?
Education benefit enrollments have not yet restarted because military officials are still working out what the new budget bill requires. As soon as it is clear when and by how much funding will be restored, Saint Leo will accept Tuition Assistance. Active-duty military students need to stay in contact with their education officers. Once TA resumes, get us those approvals as quickly as possible. When we know exactly what the military will pay, we can bill at the appropriate time. Each sponsorship biller has a schedule when military tuition bills can be submitted, so we'll work as quickly as we can to meet the next billing window.
Is there any chance that I can receive assistance for a class that I was locked out of?
TA is class specific. So check with your education officer and ask if any classes that you were locked out of during the TA suspension could be covered. Even though the billing windows are time-specific for submission purposes, they are lenient to term dates – which means that we can actually bill for past terms.
What should Saint Leo students who have relied on military Tuition Assistance programs do in the meantime?
We strongly urge our active-duty military students to apply for federal student aid. So get your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) filed as quickly as possible. If you have never done a FAFSA before, call our financial aid office. Our counselors are more than happy to step you through the entire process, if you need help. Also continue to look and apply for scholarships.
What is Saint Leo doing to help military students?
We're continuing to reach out to all of our military students. We understand how painful this situation is and that students need answers in order to keep moving forward with their lives and their studies. Regardless of what happens in the near future, our financial aid counselors will continue to work with students to find alternative sources of aid.
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Image Credit: Department of Defense