College extends assistance to military students as Government Reopens

By Celia Darrough

UPDATE Oct. 21, 2013: The college will extend the "add" period for online undergraduate courses until Friday at 11:59 p.m. for those seeking to hear about their MTA funding. We know there may be a backlog of MTA requests, but we want to give ample time for students to enroll in the October session.  

UPDATE Oct. 15, 2013: The college will expand its tuition deferment program to include military veterans as well as military servicemembers. Details are available here

One month ago, Columbia College celebrated 40 years of educating military and adult learners. The college has been especially proud to support military servicemembers and their families in their educational goals as they serve our country.

Until recently, military members could rely on assistance from their service branch in the form of military tuition assistance. As of Oct. 1, tuition assistance will not be authorized or granted for new classes due to the federal government shutdown.

In light of the shutdown, Columbia College will defer tuition charges for the term beginning Oct. 21 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 create some consistency and stability for our military students,” said Mike Lederle, assistant dean for military and federal programs. "Columbia College has been a leader in military education since 1973. We value the contributions of our service member students, and we want to continue to help them during this time of uncertainty."

This is not the first time the college has made this step to help its military students. In March 2013, all branches of the U.S. Military ceased distribution of tuition assistance. Columbia College stood by its military students and offered additional support.

“During that time, Columbia College advised students of several options for continuing their education. One option was to apply for Federal Financial Aid,” said Lederle. “Of the military personnel who applied for the Federal Pell Grant following sequestration in March 2013, 73 percent were eligible.”

The principles of excellence that Columbia College has established work well for military servicemembers, said Brig. Gen. Dave Newman of the Missouri Air National Guard at the AHE 40th celebration event on Aug. 29. The college was destined to have a partnership with the military, he said.

“Last year nearly 10 percent of what the Missouri National Guard spent on education went to Columbia College,” Newman said at the Aug. 29 event. “Columbia College makes the Missouri National Guard and the U.S. military stronger, which makes us a better nation, and it makes us safer. It’s more than just educating.”

To assist military members year-round, the college offers scholarships and discounts for service members and their spouses and dependents, the ability to mix in-seat and online classes, start-and-stop flexibility and course credit for military experience.

Columbia College recognizes that many will be affected by the shutdown. During the 2012-13 academic year, more than 7,000 military students completed Columbia College coursework at campuses across the country. Of those 35 locations, 18 are located on military bases, including one in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


These are the details of Columbia College assistance for the October 2013 academic session:

Affected students must:
  • Be eligible for military tuition assistance
  • Apply for or have a current FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) on file
Columbia College will offer the following to affected students:
  • The opportunity to withdraw from classes through Nov. 29, 2013, without financial or academic liability
  • The opportunity to enroll in an extended six-month payment plan, with the first payment due Nov. 22, 2013
Students with questions about the withdrawal policy or extended payment plan should contact their campus for details. For servicemembers and their families who are looking for more information on how the shutdown will affect them, visit this helpful website.


Anonymous said...

It would be nice if this was extended to all Federal workers. We are doing a public service just as your military students are.
Please reconsider your policy to include us as well.

Anonymous said...

Columbia College,

Please reconsider this offer to include DoD civilians and veterans. We serve/served our country honorably, and the money we depend on to pay our education, particularly GI Bill money, is potentially going to be halted. For those of us that have already submitted claims for the month of October, it is stated that we should still get paid this month, but there is a strong possibility that the VA will not have enough money to fund us through the month of November. Furthermore, what we are experiencing now will seem like a drop in the bucket if the government defaults and hits the debt ceiling.

Unknown said...

Thank you for your comments, and for being a Columbia College student. Our policy change allows those who are getting their educational funding suspended due to the government shutdown, not those who may not be receiving compensation for their work at this time. However, our payment plan process does allow students to put down half at the time of registration, and not have to pay the other half until the session ends. Please see information about the payment plan here:

Unknown said...

Please note that the benefits have been extended to veterans for the October 2013 session. Details can be found online here: