DOD faces $46B in cuts; Air Force suspends tuition assistance - FOX 10 News |

Dept. of Defense faces $46B in cuts; Air Force suspends tuition assistance

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The automatic spending cuts, known as the sequester are now affecting the futures of airmen. The Air Force's tuition assistance program was suspended late Monday.

The Air Force joins the Army, Coast Guard and Marine Corps in suspending tuition after the U.S. Department of Defense was faced with $16 billion in automatic cuts.

One airman I talked to is putting his education on hold hopes that funding will return.

Many of the men who fly and maintain fighter jets are part-time students, like Technical Sgt. Abel Telles who's seeking a degree in environmental technology management.

"I could use it to hopefully work for a company on the outside and pretty much make sure they're staying in the confines of environmental laws," he said.

The 30-year-old plans to start a family with his new wife, then get a civilian job with his degree, but like many airmen, he's not sure how he'll pay for classes now.

"It's not a good situation, but I understand why it's happening," said Telles.

Luke Air Force Base guidance counselor Sandy Cooper says, "Without it, a lot of them will not be probably continuing their education and that's what I'll be working with them to do."

Cooper says each student gets up to $4,500 a year for school costs.

"Right now for Luke AFB, there's over 800 that are taking advantage of their tuition assistance and we pay about $2 million in tuition assistance costs per fiscal year," explained Cooper.

The suspension is forcing students to look at other options, such as scholarship, but Sgt. Telles says he might even have to utilize his G.I. Bill.

"We do plan to have kids and one of the goals was using my G.I. Bill to give to one of our children, but obviously now with the current situation, I may have to use that, so now again it just changes up the plans," he said.

Sgt. Telles was supposed to start a new class on Monday, but now he's waiting to see if funding returns after his upcoming deployment.

There's no timeline for when students might see tuition money again.

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