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JCC official enthusiastic about return of full tuition assistance for soldiers


For one Jefferson Community College official, the prospect of the Army’s tuition assistance program again becoming fully funded is a sign of lawmakers’ commitment to soldiers like those on Fort Drum.

“That’s really heartwarming that the commitment for the men and women who protect our country and for their education is there,” said Donald R. Johnson, JCC’s director of military programs.

The aid program, suspended earlier this month, was reinstated when Congress passed an appropriations bill funding the Department of Defense, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman George Little said that he did not see any program cuts through the end of this fiscal year, which is Sept. 30.

“We intend to resume the program the way it was before suspension,” Mr. Little said.

However, a decision on when the benefit will return has not been finalized.

The Army’s tuition assistance program pays up to $250 per credit hour, with an annual limit of $4,500. All soldiers, including Army Reserve and Army National Guard members, are eligible for the program.

Mr. Johnson said that he was excited about the statement, and that he and other administrators were checking and the Department of Defense’s website daily for input on when enrollments could resume.

“We’re more excited for when soldiers can log on and sign up for classes,” he said.

The college’s summer course planning started in January, including selecting books where necessary and preparing instructors. Mr. Johnson, who works at Fort Drum’s Robert C. McEwen Education Complex, said large disruptions in funding could have meant canceling classes.

“There’s things you do behind the scenes,” Mr. Johnson said. “Some of that would have been for naught.”

The college will hold a series of weekly education sessions to help military students find new state and federal aid money.

The first session is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday at Fort Drum’s education center annex, 10450 5th Armored Division Drive.

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