Park University, a nonprofit, private institution located in Parkville, Missouri, has recently announced it is assisting U.S. Coast Guard members during the partial federal government shutdown.
Although the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs budgets have been approved, tuition assistance benefit funding needs have not been met for U.S. Coast Guard service members as a result of the peacetime organizational structure under the Department of Homeland Security, one of the seven agencies not receiving funding during the shutdown.
The university, which has maintained a relationship with the U.S. Military dating back to the Spanish-American War, will assist Coast Guard members with their educational goals by waiving tuition for one class, up to 3 credit hours, for its Spring I term that began on Jan. 14.
“Park University has a rich tradition of serving those who serve their country. Anything the University can do to help students attain their educational goals is our first priority,” said retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. and military adviser Bill Lawson, director of strategic initiatives at Park. “While the Coast Guard continues to accept tuition assistance applications during this lapse in appropriations, it is unable to approve any applications until a budget, continuing resolution or further funding is authorized.”
In addition, Park will provide Coast Guard students a $60 credit towards textbook costs for that academic term. It also waives the admission fee for all military applicants.
The private institution has provided assistance to military members enrolled in higher education institutions throughout the nation before. In 2013, Park offered emergency scholarships to active service member students who weren’t eligible for GI Bill benefits during the government shutdown, which lasted for 16 days.
“Although the Coast Guard makes up a small percentage of the nearly 11, 500 students the University serves at its 42 campuses across the country and online worldwide, we believed that it was our moral responsibility to offer this assistance during this time,” Lawson said.
For the 2018-2019 academic year, Park has 18 Coast Guard students currently enrolled who are active duty, reservists, retired or dependents.
The Park community’s reaction regarding the military assistance has been very positive, university officials said.
For instance, Patrick McCarthy, Park University student and Coast Guard Reserve member, told Diverse he thinks it’s “really great” that an institution like Park is “willing to reach out a hand when it’s needed to the people who protect our coasts.”
“The way this shutdown is hurting federal employees, and especially the Coast Guard, is frustrating and infuriating,” McCarthy said. “It’s a huge comfort to know that even while our very livelihoods are being put on hold, we can still continue learning and be successful with our education.”
Once the shutdown is over and funding for the Coast Guard is approved Park Coast Guard students will be eligible for tuition assistance through branch funding.
However, Park will continue to monitor the situation and we will review options as warranted, Lawson said.
Monica Levitan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her on Twitter @monlevy_.