- Associated Press - Saturday, July 2, 2016

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - The recent elimination of the Overseas Combat Veteran Tuition Program could limit access for many Wyoming veterans to no-cost higher education.

The program provided combat veterans with 10 free semesters at any Wyoming community college and the University of Wyoming. Their spouses and dependents were also eligible.

The decision to cut the program hurt many current UW students, said Marty Martinez, senior project coordinator for UW Veterans Services.

“This is a state-funded program, and we know the troubles the state is having financially. But it was surprising and shocking to see it happen,” he said. “I’m not going to say I agree with it, but times like this, certain programs are going to get touched.”

The university sent an email to more than 60 University of Wyoming program participants telling them about the elimination of the service by the beginning of the next school year.

The program cost the state about $312,000 per year for UW enrollees alone. The statewide program totals were not available.

In an email Friday, Gov. Matt Mead said the cuts are necessary because of the state’s difficult economic situation, the Laramie Boomerang reported (http://tinyurl.com/h6g42mg ).

“The drastic dip in revenue required difficult decisions. All the cuts made, this one included, were hard,” he said.

Two other educational assistance programs are still available, including the Montgomery GI Bill and the state program for Wyoming Guard members, officials said.

Officials said they are now trying to find other scholarship funds for the students who are affected.

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Information from: Laramie Boomerang, http://www.laramieboomerang.com

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