NC Sen. Hagan restores military tuition assistance program - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

NC Sen. Hagan restores military tuition assistance program

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Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan pens bill to reinstate military tuition cuts Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan pens bill to reinstate military tuition cuts

Service members denied tuition assistance will soon be getting it all back.

Democratic Senator Kay Hagan, along with a Republican Senator from Oklahoma, passed a bill in the senate that would re-instate the tuition program cut by sequestration.

Senator Hagan touted her quick action to getting the much needed tuition assistance re-instated saying her bill showed bi-partisanship on the hill.

"All of a sudden many of them found out over Facebook a week and a half ago that this was no longer going to be available next semester," said Hagan, "I think that was a rude wake-up call that they were shocked about especially since they thought this was something that had been promised to them."

It's a promise reinstated through a bi-partisan bill that will allow military services to ignore sequestration and return funding to the program up to the end of this fiscal year, October 1st, 2013.

After that, Sen. Hagan says she hopes congress will have a sound budget in place that will prevent the continuing sequestration, thus allowing the tuition program to continue.

"That we were able to get this amendment on the floor, have it voted on and have a successful vote - that's moving pretty quickly in the U.S. Senate," said Sen. Hagan.

With 50,000 service men and women receiving college degrees through the program just last year, Sen. Hagan says it's a vital tool to help service members' transition back into civilian life.

It needs only the President's signature to come into full effect. Officials on the hill say that should happen in the coming days.

You can see a copy of the letter Sen. Kay Hagan sent to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, just click on the link attached to this article.

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Massive budget cuts have forced the Army, Marine Corps, and Navy to cancel the tuition assistance program.

Experts say the Air Force will likely follow suit.

The program provides up to $4,500 dollars per year, for each student.

It's been a major perk for new recruits, moving from the ditches to a desk. It gives service men and women a head start on higher education.

It all stems from sequestration.

Steve Duncan PhD, director of military programs at East Carolina University admits it's a major cut. "In the army alone, army, national guard, and reserves, there is a little over 200,000 students who are using this benefit," he explained.

The cuts do not affect the G.I. Bill benefits once service members finish serving.

There are also still grants and scholarships specifically for service members.

But with the Department of Defense facing millions of dollars in cuts, it's either benefits or bullets.

"When Defense has to make cuts, they try to take things that have the least impact on combat readiness," Duncan explained.

Students already using tuition assistance won't lose it, but new applications won't be accepted.

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