CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A program that provides tuition assistance for veterans has been restored for now by Gov. Matt Mead after being targeted for elimination because of budget cuts.
Mead announced Wednesday that he would continue funding the program through the coming fall semester. And he didn't rule out the possibility of continuing it after this year.
The program administered by the Wyoming Community College Commission provided assistance to 162 veterans at the state's seven community colleges and the University of Wyoming last fall.
Just at UW, about 60 students had been enrolled in the program, costing the state about $312,000 a year in tuition support.
Veterans who had been deployed to combat zones could receive 10 free semesters at any Wyoming community college and the university. Veterans' surviving spouses and dependents are also eligible.
"This program is important to our veterans and their families — many rely on it as they pursue their degree," Mead said in a statement. "Declining revenues make the state budget difficult to predict. Veterans, colleges and the University will now have time to transition to a program that leverages existing federal assistance and looks at state priorities."
Students in the program, which was administered by the Wyoming Community College Commission, had been told recently that the program was being eliminated to save money. The state's seven community colleges are slashing budgets because of cuts in state aid brought on by a downturn in Wyoming's mineral extraction industry.
Community colleges across the state have been forced to eliminate about 175 jobs and cut back on other expenses as a result.