Tuition for 200? No Problem!

Wednesday - 8/18/2010, 4:00am EDT

Problem: You are a retired civil servant, and you currently have more than 20 children in college, from Austin, Tex., to Quito, Ecuador. Last year you had 26 in school. Some community colleges, some Ivy League.

Additional Problem: You are paying full tuition, etc. And you have more children who are about to hit college age. The last, if you are lucky, will graduate sometime around 2018. To date you have spent more than $6 million in tuition, room and board.

Options: (A) Change name and run away from home, or, (B) get a second job.

Solution: You chose B. You get a job as executive director of the Federal Employees Education and Assistance Fund. FEEA (with a lot of generous help from private corporate friends like Blue Cross-Blue Shield and GEICO) is the feds-helping-feds charity that takes care of government workers and their families after hurricanes, floods and natural disasters. And after things like the Oklahoma City bombings ( April 19, 1995), Hurricane Katrina and the September 11, 2001 suicide attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York City, and the Pentagon.

After retiring from the Social Security Administration, Steve Bauer was picked to run the newly-created FEEA. Despite the lofty title he travels the country selling raffle tickets, speaking and fund raising for FEEA. He has more hours in the air than some astronauts.

After a hurricane in Florida near Homestead AFB, Bauer jumped on an airplane with a suitcase full of money and headed out to help distraught feds. He said postal workers took Social Security employees out in 4-wheel vehicles in the midst of the wreckage to help find people, and get them their checks. Not your typical 9-to-5 job.

We crossed paths a couple of weeks back at the FDR ( Federal Dispute Resolution) conference in Atlanta. He had a booth and feds attending the conference were generous as they always are with FEEA.

The bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City ( April 19, 1995) killed 168 government workers. They left 200 children as partial, or total, orphans. One was born three months after his parent was killed.

FEEA contacted all of the families and promised the kids a full-ride to any college they could get into. Most stayed in the Oklahoma area and many choose careers---education, medicine, counseling---helping people.

The same process was repeated for children who's parent or parents were killed in the attack on the Pentagon. (From the 4th floor of our office building I could see it burn. A lot of people , through FEEA, did a lot more than just watch).

Over the years Bauer says his "kids" have had all the usual problems associated with getting into and going to college. All this on top of the loss of a parent at a very young age. He's had to play good-cop-bad-cop, but mostly it has been an incredibly satisfying experience.

So what's it like being the Godfather for that many kids for this long? How did they turn out? What's next?

We'll find out today at 10 a.m. (EDT) on our Your Turn radio show when we talk with Bauer about the full-ride college program for kids who really need it (and whose parents really deserve it). Listen if you can, and tell a friend what's its all about. That's 10 a.m. on your computer at www.federalnewsradio.com or, in the Washington area by real, old-fashioned radio at 1500 AM.


Nearly Useless Factoid
by Vyomika Jairam

Per population estimates from the last 10 years from the Census Bureau Rhode Island has had the least percent of population increase. 0.5 percent, or about 5,000 people.


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