State’s Military Students Feel Pain Of Federal Cuts

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The federal government's across-the-board spending cuts, known as the sequester, are being felt by the nation's military.

Thousands of military students are losing education funding.

The tuition assistance program is an extremely popular in-service benefit. The Army alone boasts more than 201,000 soldiers participating in the program.

But with tuition assistance now suspended, some students are left wondering how to pay for college.

Westerville South senior Hunter Lyerla says he had always considered a military career. Following in his father's footsteps by joining the National Guard was one reason. Having his college paid for was an even bigger one.

"The tuition was definitely a deciding factor,” Lyerla said. "It was an opportunity to pay for college."

Hunter and his mother, Anita Lyerla, say they could not believe it when they heard the tuition assistance program had been suspended.

"I feel helpless,” said Anita Lyerla. "This put a real hurt on us and a very short period of time to figure it out."

Hunter had already signed a contract with the Army National Guard and had enrolled for the fall semester at Ohio University.

"Now it's, ‘Does he have to dis-enroll?’” asked Anita Lyerla.

The Department of Defense has posted the following statement on its website:

"We're in a period of terrible budget uncertainty. (The Department of Defense) is making multiple decisions that aren't exactly to our liking, but we are having to swallow bitter pills not because we want to pop them, but because we're forced to make some very tough decisions."

And now, Hunter and his family are left with their own tough decisions as they try to figure out how to pay for school.

"As any parent would, we'll look into other options. I want my son to be able to go to college,” said Anita Lyerla.

"If this doesn't work, I'm going to have to look into maybe student loans or something like that,” Hunter Lyerla added.

Military officials say they hope this is only a temporary cut, but add that the tuition assistance program will likely remain closed until at least Oct. 1.

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