Edit: This story has changed.
The state of Wyoming is eliminating the Overseas Combat Veteran Tuition Program at the beginning of the upcoming school year.
The program, for combat veterans - and their surviving spouses if the member died in combat - paid for up to 10 semesters at any Wyoming community college or the University of Wyoming.
Governor Matt Mead said the cuts are necessary given the state's difficult economic situation. "The drastic dip in revenue required difficult decisions. All the cuts made, this one included, were hard," he said. Wyoming gets much of its tax revenue from the mineral industry, and downturns in coal, natural gas, and oil prices have hit Wyoming especially hard, causing hundreds of millions in budget shortfalls this year alone.
An email sent by the UW Student Financial Aid Office to more than 60 students using the program at the University of Wyoming program announced the elimination of the service by the beginning of the fall school year. The program cost the state nearly $500,000 annually, and the state Community College Commission has been directed to identify approximately $24 million in reductions across its various appropriations. The email also said "The colleges, unfortunately, must plan for not only these state-imposed reductions, but also a projected 16 percent loss in property tax revenue. In light of this, and consistent with the programmatic priorities each state agency must submit to the Governor and Legislature each biennium, the decision was made to fully eliminate 2017-2018 funding for the Veterans Tuition Waiver Program."
Officials said they are now trying to find other scholarship funds for the students who are affected.