Columbia seeks to help vets fill tuition shortfall
Published: March 9, 2011
Columbia University, which took a public relations hit in the veterans community last month, could be winning some favor back with a concerted effort to help student veterans make up for a pending shortfall in tuition funding under the latest GI Bill revisions.
With the new plan, veterans from 11 states will see a decline — in some cases, a very significant decline — in the amount of money available for tuition each semester. In a Feb. 28 story, reporter Leo Shane III spoke with a couple of Columbia students facing just such a scenario. Army vet Azar Boehm is due to graduate next year but figures he’ll have to pay $10,000 out of pocket to do so. Nicholas Lozano, a former Marine Corps reservist, is a sophomore who estimates the GI Bill changes will cost him $35,000.
But Peter Awn, Dean of the School of General Studies at Columbia, said the school is scrambling to find ways to help veterans make up the difference in tuition costs, according to the Columbia Spectator.
“What we’re trying to do is engage all of the veterans to try to come up with financial plans that would alleviate whatever additional funds [they need], like loans, grant money,” Awn told the school newspaper.
Columbia officials are planning a series of meetings and informational sessions with the school’s veterans to let them know about the consequences of the GI Bill changes and help those in need find external sources of funding, the paper reported. Students and administrators are also actively campaigning Congress to install a grandfather clause that would allow students enrolled before the changes to have their education funded at the original levels.
In February, veterans groups sent out scathing statements after wounded Iraq war veteran Anthony Maschek was reportedly heckled by fellow Columbia students during a forum about lifting the 42-year ban on ROTC at the private university in New York.
Maschek, however, told the Spectator that the school and his fellow students had, by and large, been welcoming and encouraged him to share his military experiences, “despite the actions of a very small minority of the town hall participants.”