Columbia College allows military students to defer tuition payments

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 | 6:37 p.m. CDT; updated 7:06 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, March 12, 2013

COLUMBIA — In an effort to aid service members affected by recent federal cuts to military tuition assistance, Columbia College will allow service members to defer tuition payments for a four-week period this spring.

In response to sequestration, or $85 billion in federal cuts, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Coast Guard have suspended tuition assistance programs.

The spring academic period begins March 25, but military students at the college will not be required to make tuition payments until April 26.

Mike Lederle, assistant dean of Military and Federal Programs at Columbia College, said his department is encouraging students to obtain financial aid, funding under the G.I. Bill and both internal and external scholarships.

“We want personal loans to be the last thing our students look into,” Lederle said.

Columbia College also will allow students to withdraw from classes without academic or financial liability, though Lederle is optimistic students won't have to withdraw.

Approximately 8,500 students enrolled in courses through Columbia College, which includes 35 locations nationally, are currently eligible for military tuition assistance, Lederle said, and he expects this number to rise in the future.

The college will examine extending assistance to future academic sessions, Lederle said. 

Lederle, a recent retiree of the Columbia Police Department and a 27-year active member of the Army National Guard, said he is pleased with the school’s efforts to help military students in need.

“As a college we have high academic standards,” Lederle said. “We will do anything in our power to help our students without compromising those academic standards.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Supervising editor is Jacob Kirn.

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Corey Parks March 12, 2013 | 10:25 p.m.

Thank you Columbia College. My wife graduated from there using TA as well as a few others I know. I also send all my Soldiers looking at college to check out your online courses. I currently have 3 attending and I hated the fact I had to tell them that Tuition Assistance was shut down last week.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 13, 2013 | 7:27 a.m.

Another Missouri private institution, Park University, has for some years specialized in education for armed service personnel on active duty. Park's home campus is located just north of Kansas City, but most of their teaching facilities are located around the United States, close to military bases. They are also into online education.

Park claims the second highest number of students of any Missouri-based university, second only to UM System. Their most popular majors are Business, Accounting, and Criminal Justice.

Seems to me that Columbia College and Park University are good examples of how someone can sense an educational need and then fill it.

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