Clark State Community College will extend its 50 percent military tuition discount next year to members of the National Guard and U.S. Reserves, along with a smaller discount for military spouses.
Clark State already offers a similar discount to active duty members, said John Devillier, vice president of business affairs at Clark State. In the past two years, the program has provided a savings of about $19,000 for the 89 students currently using the discount.
The expansion would provide opportunities for discounted tuition for more than 3,000 reserve personnel stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and 1,500 members of the Ohio National Guard in Springfield, along with their spouses. Members of the Guard and National Reserves outside the region would also qualify. Spouses would receive a 20 percent tuition discount.
The discount is a tool to encourage military members to continue their education and provide them with skills employers need both during and after their military service, said state Rep. Rick Perales, a former Greene County commissioner and a U.S. Air Force veteran.
“We’re never going to get to the next level as a state unless we can train and educate the right people here,” Perales said. “This is the kind of program that does it.”
About 6,500 students attend Clark State overall, so the 89 students enrolled now make up just a fraction of Clark State’s student population, Devillier said.
Tuition at Clark State currently is $139 per credit hour, or roughly $4,200 annually for 30 credit hours. The decision to extend the tuition discount comes at a time when Clark State is also expanding its online education programs, Devillier said.
“It’s a way for us to say thank you for the men and women who serve our country,” said Devillier, a retired Air Force colonel who previously served as commander of the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Timothy Knight, an adjunct professor at Clark State, also serves in the Air Force Reserves with the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson. He’s served in the military since 1992, first as a member of the Ohio Army National Guard.
Military families face many challenges including being asked to move frequently and can be called up at any time. Any support to earn additional job training is appreciated, Knight said.
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“That can be a terrible disruption of everyday life, but that’s what we signed up for,” Knight said.
While Clark State will provide discounted tuition to members of the military, the college also announced earlier this month it will raise tuition $10 per credit hour beginning in the fall, pending approval of lawmakers and the governor.
The increase was approved by the college’s board of trustees Tuesday night and will be the first since a statewide three-year freeze on tuition. The additional revenue will be used to improve security and technology on the campus, as well as hiring additional faculty and staff, Clark State President Jo Alice Blondin said.
The two moves are unrelated, she said, and discussions to provide a discount for military families were in the works long before the board of trustees approved the tuition increase.
The community college has taken several steps to provide more support to military families in recent years. It became become one of the first Ohio schools to receive the Purple Heart Campus designation, denoting it actively supports and welcomes veterans and military members. It also installed an outdoor memorial on the campus to honor the memory of the nation’s fallen soldiers.
“Clark State is known for its military friendliness, but Clark State needs to put its money where its mouth is,” Blondin said.