In light of the federal government shutdown, Columbia College at the Lake of the Ozarks will defer tuition charges for affected military service members for the term that begins this month.   The college will offer a no-liability withdrawal policy or an extended six-month payment plan.

"This is an opportunity to create some consistency and stability for our military students,” said Mike Lederle, assistant dean for military and federal programs. "Columbia College has been a leader in military education since 1973. We value the contributions of our service member students, and we want to continue to help them during this time of uncertainty."

Details of Columbia College assistance for the October 2013 academic session:

Affected students must:

•        Be eligible for military tuition assistance

•        Apply for or have a current FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) on file

  • Columbia College will offer the following to affected students:

•        The opportunity to withdraw from classes through Nov. 29, 2013, without financial or academic liability

•        The opportunity to enroll in an extended six-month payment plan, with the first payment due Nov. 22, 2013

This is not the first time the college has taken a similar step. In March 2013, all branches of the U.S. Military ceased distribution of tuition assistance.

“During that time, Columbia College advised students of several options for continuing their education. One option was to apply for Federal Financial Aid,” said Lederle. “Of the military personnel who applied for the Federal Pell Grant following sequestration in March 2013, 73 percent were eligible.”

During the 2012-13 academic year, more than 7,000 military students completed Columbia College coursework. Many of those affiliated with the military are enrolled at Columbia College's campuses across the country. Of those 35 locations, 18 are located on military bases, including one in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Lake Ozark campus was established in 1990 and will be celebrating its 23rd anniversary later this month. In 2004, a new 17,400-square-foot building was constructed, completed in spring 2005. The first classes held in the new facility began in June 2005.

Founded in 1851 in Columbia, Mo., Columbia College has been helping students advance their lives through higher education for more than 160 years.