Armstrong Helps Military Students Affected by Government Shutdown

(Nov. 5, 2013) – Armstrong Atlantic State University recently awarded emergency financial aid to military students affected by the recent government shutdown.

The U.S. military's suspension of financial aid for active duty service members during the recent shutdown forced many military students at colleges throughout the country to withdraw from classes. Because Armstrong's recent flex term started during the government shutdown in October, active duty military students at the university's main campus in Savannah and at the Liberty Center in Hinesville did not receive military tuition assistance. That funding is not expected to be paid retroactively, so soldiers were faced with the option of disenrolling from classes or paying the tuition out of pocket.

Armstrong president Dr. Linda M. Bleicken decided to take action to help Armstrong's military students, designating $10,000 from the Armstrong Foundation's Benevolence Fund to cover tuition for military students affected by the government shutdown. The Benevolence Fund is administered through the university's Financial Aid office and is earmarked to assist students in emergency situations.

“Supporting military students is a top priority at Armstrong,” said Dr. Bleicken. “We deeply appreciate the sacrifice our military students have made for their country and want to do everything we can to support their success in the classroom at Armstrong.”

Armstrong has 1,000+ military-affiliated students, more than 600 of whom receive some kind of financial assistance, whether through Veterans Affairs or the U.S. Army's Tuition Assistance program. A number of military students would have had to sit out this semester without taking classes because their funding was suspended during the recent term.

“We're doing this because we know many students would have to withdraw from classes without funding,” said Laura Pallini-Bolton, Armstrong's veterans affairs coordinator. “We want military students to continue their education at Armstrong.”

For students like April Powell, a sophomore who currently serves in the Army National Guard, the funding Armstrong provided has made a world of difference.

“I was very worried because I didn't know how I was going to pay for my Spanish and English classes,” Powell says. “Thank God Armstrong said they would take care of it, so I didn't have to pay out of pocket. It was a huge relief.”

Monique Gipson, an active duty soldier serving at Ft. Stewart who attends Armstrong's Liberty Center in Hinesville, Ga., also appreciates Armstrong's emergency financial aid for military students. When Gipson heard about the suspension of tuition assistance, she was afraid her plans to become an Army Warrant Officer would be delayed.

“I had a window of opportunity to attend classes, and it was almost lost.” she said. “I am so thankful to Armstrong for helping me achieve my goals. I could have attended a number of colleges, but I'm glad I picked Armstrong. It's a university that not only claims to be military-friendly, but that actually came through when soldiers needed help.”

Pete Hoffman, director of Armstrong's Liberty Center in Hinesville, has seen first-hand how the government shutdown affected students at the Armstrong campus, which serves a number of active military students stationed at nearby Fort Stewart.

“This is an attempt to do what's right,” said Hoffman. “These young soldiers have done their part, volunteering to serve our nation during a time of war. We're proud to step up and support our military students.”

Last month, President Bleicken signed the Got Your 6 Education Pillar Pledge, as well as a memorandum of understanding to join the Academic Institutions for Military Students (AIMS) Network, underscoring Armstrong's ongoing support of student veterans.

Earlier this year, Armstrong was included on Victory Media's prestigious 2014 Military Friendly Schools® list, which honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country embracing America's military service members, veterans and spouses and supporting their success on campus.