Mo. college offers scholarships to Whiteman AFB airmen
The Sedalia (Mo.) Democrat
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE — Thousands of federal employees are furloughed due to the government shutdown, but some airmen at Whiteman Air Force Base are facing a new concern — how to pay tuition for their on-base college classes.
Several colleges offer classes at the Professional Development Center at WAFB, but military tuition assistance has been suspended because of the government shutdown. State Fair Community College President Joanna Anderson announced during a press conference at the base Thursday that the college will be offering scholarships to the 214 airmen who were enrolled in its first eight-week session of classes. If all 214 students enroll again, that could mean costs of about $82,000.
“The cost is definitely worthwhile,” Anderson told the Democrat after the press conference. “It’s important to do. It’s all about finding a solution when our partners need assistance.”
Col. Kristin E. Goodwin, vice wing commander, was in attendance at the press conference, and told the Democrat how important these scholarships are to the airmen.
“Continuing education is so important for our airmen. It’s a goal many of them aspire to, and it helps them and us in the Air Force,” she said. “They didn’t expect a shutdown, so now they have this financial burden. Unless they get relief, like this scholarship from State Fair (Community College), they may not be able to continue their dreams of getting that education. We’re so grateful for our partnership with State Fair.”
Capt. John Severns, chief of public affairs, said they have been working to notify any airmen enrolled in the first session to be looking into financial assistance, and will continue to keep them informed through internal channels about the new SFCC scholarship.
WAFB students enrolled in SFCC classes for the first eight-week session may be awarded a tuition and fees scholarship for the same number of credit hours if they are enrolled in the second eight-week session, which begins Tuesday. Students are encouraged to apply for financial aid, and if they qualify for a Pell Grant, that will be applied to tuition costs before the scholarship funds are applied.
Because of the quick turnaround, the SFCC office at WAFB will be open Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Monday, normally a base holiday for Columbus Day, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to help get students qualified for the scholarship and enrolled in time for classes.
“Since we don’t know when the shutdown is going to end, we decided we can’t wait any longer because classes start Tuesday,” Anderson said. “We’re a student-centered college, and we are always looking for ways to help our students be successful. If they have to stop classes because they can’t afford it, that’s not what we want to happen. We want to help them continue toward their education goals.”