CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - A program which pays for our service members college education is seeing a significant cut in funding.
The state of Illinois will no longer fund the Illinois Veteran Grant through 2015, leaving public universities and community colleges to pick up the 32 million dollar tab statewide.
According to Illinois state law, the grant is considered an entitlement.
That means money must be available for veterans who want to go to college.
The state has decided not to fund the program, which means universities must find a way to foot the bill.
Daniel Perritt says he never would have been able to go to college without the Illinois Veteran Grant.
"This is what separates Illinois from other states from other states when it comes to taking care of their veterans," said Perritt.
Perritt was a Navy corpsman for five years before deciding to hang up his uniform.
"I did one tour in Iraq and one tour in Kuwait," said Perritt. "I separated in 2011 and then came out here."
The program helped him and over 600 other Saluki veterans in more ways than one. In addition, if it were no longer available thousands of other veterans would not be able to achieve a college degree.
"I would have to take out more loans then most students normally do," said Perritt. "It does invoke a little fear that the program could end at some point."
Paul Copeland is Siu's Coordinator for Veteran Services.
He says this isn't the first time the program has been cut. More than $5 million was lost last year and he expects the same outcome this year.
"It principally impacts the campus, so as a representative of the university I'm certainly concerned about that money not coming here to reimburse the tuition and fees for veteran students,' Copeland said.