ROTC cadet discusses tuition assistance cuts

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Across the country, budget woes are impacting the future of many men and women in our military.

Last Friday, many learned the Army and Marine Corps canceled their tuition assistance program. Now, many are trying to find a new ways to make ends meet.

One of those affected is UT student and Army ROTC Cadet First Staff Sergeant Jessica McGuire.

Her day typically starts at 6:30 with training, followed by classes. Then, every afternoon she's at work study inside the supply room at the army rotc, keeping the area organized and taking orders.

"Any left over time, I'm studying for tests, I'm writing papers, I'm doing volunteer work for our ROTC program, other preparations for training events," said McGuire.

Before last week, the money she got from tuition assistance let her do all this and keep her weekends mostly free.

"With that in place, I really didn't have to worry about not being able to meet my semester monetary deadlines," said McGuire.

But now, the $250 she got for every credit hour is gone.

"I really didn't have any idea. It was really sudden for me," said McGuire. "I'm taking it step-by-step. I'm trying to get through this semester."

Looking ahead, she'll have to work a second job to afford her tuition.

She worries that will take away from her preparations for the Leadership Development Assessment Course which will decide whether she can achieve her goal of active duty.

Not only does she want to be active, McGuire wants to be commissioned as an officer. But she can't do that without a college degree.

Right now, there are about 140 students in the Army ROTC programs at UT-Knoxville and Chattanooga, and an estimated 35-40 of them were relying on the tuition assistance.

But soldiers enrolled right now will continue receiving the assistance until completing those courses, but as of now, cannot put in new requests.

A spokesman for the Army's personnel chief said they will re-evaluate the program if the budget situation improves.

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