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Subject: No Money for College

By: Michael S. Hardwick

Date Posted: 1999-07-17

Less than two weeks ago I watched as the President spoke on television about how our nation has such a large surplus of money left from the budget. For days after that I read in the newspaper and watched on the news as congress argued on just how much surplus there really is, and what should be done with all that extra cash.

I am sure that I do not have to explain just how tough being a young enlisted military member is these days. I am sure that you have heard all about how the budget cuts in military spending and the down sizing of personnel has forced military members to do more with less people and equipment.

I am sure that I do not have to tell you that the average military member now spends more time deployed than ever before. I am sure that you know when you look at all of the long hours that our military members work that their pay is less than that of the hourly wages of a fast food worker. I am sure that you know that many of our younger military members receive food stamps and or work second jobs in order to provide for their families. I am sure that you know many military units do not receive the training that they need in order to protect our country because of lack of funds for training.

With all of the above said I am sure that none of it comes as a big surprise. However, today I did learn something that really surprised me.

As I went to my local education center to try and sign up for a few college classes I was totally shocked. I thought that I would take full advantage of a very rare opportunity and sign up for four classes. As I spoke to the education counselor I was told that the money for tuition assistance had just ran out. You see, the military offers to pay 75% of the cost for college classes while on active duty. Not only had the money ran out, but I was also told that even had there been money the military would only pay the 75% for two classes.

I could hardly believe my ears. College registration was to run all this week and this was the first day. The first day and already the TA money was gone!

Since I had enrolled in the GI bill and have been on active duty for more than two years, I asked if I could use that to pay for my classes. Sure enough I could use my GI bill and it would cover 100% of the cost for the classes. I would only have to pay the cost of the books. Good deal right? Wrong, sure my GI bill would pay for the classes but there was just one problem. I would have to put up the money for the classes and then be reimbursed by the GI bill at a later date. The total cost for four classes would be $756 plus the cost of books. A grand total of almost $1000. That

may not sound like a lot to you, but when you are in the lower enlisted ranks you just do not have an extra $1000 laying around.

When I went to the education center today, I went with hopes of improving myself both professionally and personally. I really thought that I could better serve this nation by improving myself. As the new college year will soon start around the country, I cannot help but wonder how many millions of dollars our government will give out in grants this year. It was very shocking and somewhat sad to learn that even when our nation is doing so well economically it is those of us that are willing to give so much, that will get so little.

Michael S. Hardwick

SPC, U.S. Army

Ft. Campbell,Ky.

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