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Pentagon Official: Cutting Military Tuition Assistance 'A Nightmare Scenario'

The Army, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard will no longer offer tuition assistance to their enlisted due to government budget cuts.

Military.com recently highlighted one effect of the much talked about sequestration -- the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard will no longer offer tuition assistance. The GI Bill is still in effect, however.

The government will save about $6 million a year, while more than 300,000 servicemen and women could be affected. Those who already receive tuition assistance will be able to keep it, but no additional applications will be accepted. 

"I used tuition assistance when I was in and probably would not have a degree without it," Sgt. Christopher Diaz, director of South Gwinnett High's JROTC program, told Snellville Patch.

"This is so unfair to our military members currently serving. They defend our freedoms and this is the thanks they get. I think it is just an attack against conservatives because they are always there to protect our military members." 

The American Forces Press Service quoted a Pentagon senior official as calling the cuts a "nightmare scenario." He referred not only to cuts to tuition assistance, but to a 9 to 10 percent cut to each line item in their budget. 

On March 12, Pentagon press secretary George Little said “the program [tuition assistance] enables the professional and personal development of our service members and facilitates their transition to the civilian workforce.

“Let me be clear," he added, "we’re here because of sequestration. If sequestration were averted, we may be facing a different set of choices on these and other programs.”

While the sequestration forced these cuts to take effect March 1, the Department of Defense had been talking about reducing tuition assistance since 2011. Increasing demand and the rising price of higher education had put a strain on its budget for a number of years. Chief of Continuing Education Programs Carolyn Baker said the growth of the program was "unsustainable."

What do you think of the Department of Defense's decision to cut the tuition program?

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