By Debbie Gregory.
Lately, there has been speculation in regards to the Marine Corps’ Tuition Assistance program. Many Marines aren’t sure if they are eligible, or what the eligibility requirements are. Many people are asking, “How can the government deny their Marines this benefit?”
Let me begin by saying that Tuition Assistance is NOT the Post-9/11 GI Bill. TA is not intended to be used by service members to give themselves a head start on successful civilian careers after the military. Instead, TA is meant to be used as a retention tool for each branch of the military. It is designed to be used by service members who are not separating, and require more education to further their military careers. I have made this distinction so that people don’t believe that our Marines are being mistreated.
There have been a lot of restrictions put on the Tuition Assistance programs for all branches of service. Marine Corps Tuition Assistance is discretionary, meaning that it given at the discretion of the Marine Corps, depending on funds and the user’s eligibility.
Beginning October 1, the Marine Corps TA funding budget is divided into fiscal quarters. Once funding for any fiscal quarter is exhausted, approvals for TA will be deferred until the next quarter. When funding is available, TA will only be approved for eligible Marines, and for courses that begin in that fiscal quarter.
The Marine Corps may soon see further restrictions or cuts, but as of November 18, 2013, here are the latest eligibility requirements for Marine Corps Tuition Assistance:
Marines must have a minimum of 24 months of time in service before they are eligible to use TA.
All Marines wishing to use TA must be eligible for promotion.
Before they are approved for TA, first time users will have to complete the Marine Corps Institute Personal Financial Management Course (course ID 3420G).
All first time TA applicants will be limited to only one course for their first semester/term. This can be waived if there is documentation proving that the user has at least an Associate Degree, or at least 60 academic credits with a GPA of 2.5 or better.
TA will not be approved for classes that begin before the conclusion of any previously approved course.
Funds used for Tuition Assistance for classes that result in approved involuntary withdrawal waivers or failing grades will count toward the individual fiscal year ceilings.
Only one course will be approved for any user who, in the previous term, had their overall GPA fall below 2.5, received a D grade, or withdrew from any course.
TA will not be approved retroactively. Marines must submit their TA requests and receive approval prior to the course’s start date.
Members cannot use TA to obtain duplicate degrees, such as second Associate degree or a degree with double majors.
All issues, including incomplete courses, unpaid reimbursements and waivers, must be resolved in a Marine’s TA account before further requests will be considered.
TA cannot be used for fees related to certifications, license exams or credentials.
Reserve component officers who are on active duty orders or mobilization must have an EAS date of at least two years beyond the completion date of the requested course.
Enlisted marines must have an EAS of 60 days beyond the completion date of the requested course.
TA cannot be used for non-credit courses, training programs, continuing education/workforce development programs.
Marines who attend technical/vocation programs that involve more than one course will only be allowed to take two courses at a time.