I understand that the country is in financial crisis. I understand that we need to cut spending. However, we really do need to look at our priorities.
The federal student loan program is out of control. Tuition costs have risen faster than inflation. It is not unusual for a private college to charge $40,000 a year in tuition. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York says students and parents took out a record $100 billion last year, and owe more on student loans — more than $1 trillion is outstanding — than credit cards. But if you want to hear howling, suggest to Congress that the government get out of the student loan program. Don’t look for major budget cuts in the area of student loans by the government.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch. A website called GIBIll.com reported on October 19th that the Marines are cutting back tuition assistance by 80 percent. This changes the maximum tuition assistance from $4,500 to $875 per year.
The article reports:
Although these changes to the military’s tuition assistance program were anticipated, it’s still unclear how many students will be affected and to what extent, Stephanie Styll, a spokeswoman for University of Maryland University College Asia at Yokota Air Base in mainland Japan, told Stars and Stripes newspaper. Some analysts believe other aid such as Pell Grants and GI Bill benefits can help make up the difference for many Marines.
In addition to the cuts, new eligibility rules are being adopted by the Marine Corps, and include requiring Marines receiving tuition assistance to have at least one year of service. Despite the cuts in tuition assistance, the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill remain unaffected.
Does anyone see the irony in this? The Marines are cutting tuition assistance and hoping that government Pell Grants will make up some of the difference. The money will still come from the government, just a different department. Not only will this not be a savings, it is just unfair. Our military is made up entirely of volunteers. Anyone who has volunteered in the last ten years probably knew that he (or she) would be involved in a war either in Iraq or Afghanistan. Military pay is awful. Now we are going to take away some of their benefits. Marines are doing something for their country. Their tuition assistance should not be cut unless the government programs that grant money to students are also cut by the same amount. This is just simply wrong.