Wright State University will pay part of the tuition costs for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base personnel who enroll at the university’s graduate school in an initiative leaders hope will be a model for the rest of the nation.
The $750,000 graduate scholarship fund is open to both active-duty military service members and civilian employees at the state’s largest single-site employer with more than 27,000 employees, officials said.
“This really elevates the partnership between Wright-Patterson and Wright State University,” said Robert Fyffe, Wright State vice president for research and dean of the graduate school. “It opens up the whole gamut of graduate education for our Wright-Patterson colleagues.”
The program, set to begin this fall, will award $7,500 per year to a graduate student taking at least six credit hours per semester. The scholarship also covers Wright-Patterson employees’ spouses and dependent children. Enrollees may qualify for up to $2,500 per semester.
The university expects to award 100 to 150 scholarships this fall, according to Stephanie Gottschlich, a Wright State spokeswoman. At least four people applied for the program Tuesday, the first day students could ask for the scholarship.
“We are very, very excited to be part of this one-of-a-kind imitative and we hope others around the nation will follow in our footsteps,” said Col. Cassie B. Barlow, base commander and leader of the 88th Air Base Wing.
The scholarship covers most graduate degrees, certificates and doctoral programs, according to Wright State.
“It was a no-brainer relationship,” said Sarah Black, 88th Air Base Wing chief of force development.
University and military personnel began work on the program in February. They had to navigate a Department of Defense bureaucracy to make the scholarship fund a reality.
“We stepped through all that red tape and we got to where we are now,” Barlow said.
Air Force military and civilian personnel have an array of educational tuition programs, but Barlow said defense budget cuts may put some of those at risk of reduction.
“The problem is there is less and less available now compared to what there used to be so the incentive is this one is going to be around for a while and we’re not really sure on the other programs how long they are going to be around because their budgets are being cut,” she said.
The scholarship may be combined with other military-funded tuition programs, and can be renewed until the student completes the credential, according to Wright State. The Air Force has 17 airmen enrolled in WSU graduate programs, base spokesman Daryl Mayer said. An estimate of civilian workers enrolled was not available.
Additional information is available at www.wright.edu/graduate-school/wpafb-scholarship.