YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Tuition money for servicemembers still could be in jeopardy despite officials’ announcement this week that funds for the military’s free tuition program will be available for the next term.

That’s because the U.S. Army has no money budgeted for the last two terms of the fiscal year, which includes late summer and fall classes in South Korea, according to Dr. Gary Hunt, director of the University of Maryland’s college program for the U.S. military in South Korea and Singapore.

“It has never been like this before,” said Hunt, who has run the program from Yongsan for seven years. “I would hate to think we’re going to be doing this every semester.”

Military officials worldwide have been grappling with budget crises because of the cost of keeping troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. In South Korea, the military has postponed barracks improvements, struggled to collect trash on time and run out of money to help with local moves.

Earlier this week, Army officials announced Term IV, slated for April and May, would go on as scheduled and would include “tuition assistance,” according to the Installation Management Agency Korea Region Office at Yongsan Garrison.

But there’s still no word yet on Term V and Term I, Hunt said Tuesday. That leaves many students feeling frustrated, worried that promises of free college courses might fall short in the coming months.

The tuition program provides servicemembers and other qualifying defense workers $250 per semester hour for classes, with a maximum allowance of $4,500 per year. Maryland, which has 15 sites throughout South Korea, is just one school that offers the courses.

A free college education was one of the main reasons Spc. Melissa Edmonds, 27, of Philadelphia, joined the Army two years ago. Now in her second year in South Korea and assigned to the 516th Personnel Services Battalion, she extended her tour here for a year to finish her associate's degree in management, she said Wednesday.

“I joined the military during peacetime to go to school,” she said during a phone interview. “Now it’s wartime and you have to pay for school.”

Edmonds’ frustrations are reflected in enrollment, Hunt said. Registration for Term IV is “down by a significant amount,” he said, adding that this week’s announcement, as well as the completion this weekend of a huge military exercise with South Korea, should boost the numbers.

Of the 2,200 to 2,500 students who generally take classes in South Korea each term, Hunt said, most are Army soldiers and more than 75 percent depend on the free tuition. So far, he said, he hasn’t had to cancel or merge any scheduled classes because of the budget crunch. But he’s still concerned.

“It’s never been this late before,” he said of trying to balance class scheduling with available money.

Edmonds said she could afford to pay for a class or two if necessary to finish her two-year degree this year.

“But to me,” she said, “that would be defeating the purposes of recruiters telling people why they should join the Army.

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