In light of federal cuts to military tuition assistance for service members, Columbia College will defer tuition charges for the term beginning March 25 while military students seek other funding. For those unable to secure other financial assistance, the college will offer a no-liability withdrawal policy or an extended six-month payment plan for those affected.

“This is an opportunity to show our military students how much we value their service to our country as we support the goal of higher education for all,” said Mike Lederle, assistant dean for military and federal programs. “Columbia College has been a leader in military education since 1973, and we will continue to serve our service member students and assist them during this period of transition.”

Details of Columbia College assistance for the March 2013 academic session:

Affected students must do the following:

Be eligible for military tuition assistance

Have a current FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) on file

Columbia College will offer the following to affected students:

Defer tuition until April 26

Offer students who meet the above criteria the opportunity to withdraw from the class through April 26 without financial or academic liability

Offer a six-month payment plan, with the first payment due April 26

Since early March, the Departments of Navy, Army and Homeland Security announced that all students not currently utilizing tuition assistance through their respective services would have to use federal or personal funds, or VA benefits to pay for future coursework. Recent cuts to tuition assistance already have taken effect for members of the Army, National Guard, Reserves, Marines and Coast Guard.

In 2011, more than 8,500 military students received tuition assistance for Columbia College coursework. Many of those affiliated with the military are enrolled throughout Columbia College’s campuses across the country. Of those 35 locations, 18 are located on military bases, including one in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.