By Debbie Gregory.
While the politicians continue to agree to disagree, many active duty military service members, Veterans and their families continue to feel the effects of the government shutdown. Even though paychecks for active duty military have been spared, and current VA compensation for pensions, education benefits and vocational rehabilitation programs have a temporary sustainability programs such as tuition assistance are being shut off by the shutdown.
About 300,000 service members used the various military Tuition Assistance (TA) programs last year. TA enables active duty personnel to attend college in their off duty time by providing those eligible with up to $4,500 per fiscal year and a maximum of $250 per semester hour for tuition and fees.
However, all branches of the armed forces have ceased processing new TA requests until the shutdown ends. Applicants can still apply online, however, they will not be processed until the government reopens. And sources are saying that TA funding for classes with a start date after October 1, 2013 will not be released until the shutdown ends and funds are again available.
The Air Force even warned its personnel that all tuition assistance for classes starting on or after October 1, 2013 would be suspended until further notice. In a statement from the Air Force development office, Kimberly Yates was quoted as saying, “Students should take action to withdraw from their current class or pursue using another funding source, such as the Montgomery GI Bill or the Post 9/11 GI Bill.”
The U.S. Army’s tuition assistance website, GoArmyEd, has posted an urgent message on the subject as well, saying that they would reject all pending and approved TA requests for classes starting on or after October 1, 2013. In an update, GoArmyEd explains what this means for soldiers who wanted to use TA:
“Denied TA requests for classes with start dates during the budget impasse period will not be reinstated or reimbursed. Once Congress passes the budget, only those classes with start dates after TA has been reinstated will be approved. We do not anticipate any lag between the time of the Congressional budget approval and the re-instatement of TA. We regret the impact this is having on Soldiers.”
GoArmyEd recommends that all soldiers utilizing TA with a start date after October first should drop those classes or risk having to pay for them. The site also recommends that soldiers utilize College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests or study for the DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSSTs); however the DSSTs themselves are not available during the shutdown.
Soldiers, Sailors and Marines will be able to resume filing TA requests once the situation in Washington is resolved.
We at Military Connection are on the side of our men and women who have worn or still wear the uniforms of our military, and their families. We would like to support you during the shutdown by keeping you aware of the information that affect you.