By Debbie Gregory.
During the 16 day government shutdown, the military’s Tuition Assistance program was suspended. Now that the shutdown is over, the widely used Military Education program can resume.
The Tuition Assistance program differs slightly from branch to branch, but is ultimately designed to assist active duty Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in their pursuit of achieving their educational and professional goals during their off time. The program differs from all the other Military and Veteran Education programs in that it can only be used by the servicemember, and only during their obligated term of service. Tuition Assistance covers up to 100% of the cost of tuition and fees at most Military and Veteran Friendly colleges and universities, up to $4,500 per year.
The reinstatement of the program was left to each military branch. The Army is re-starting its Tuition Assistance effective immediately. Soldiers can apply for Tuition Assistance on classes that have a start date of October 17th or later. The Army said that it will not honor claims made with classes that have a start date of October 1-16.
The Air Force has instituted a similar policy, where it will accept submissions for classes beginning on or before the 17th . But the Air Force’s Military Tuition Assistance (Mil TA) differs in that their program will also reinstate previously approved Mil TA requests, for courses which began on or after October 17th. The Air Force has also said that it will announce its policy for Mil TA requests for classes that start before October 17 at a later time.
The Navy announced that Sailors who want to participate in the Navy TA program should seek advice from their local Navy College office before enrolling in classes or submitting requests. The Navy is in the process of reinstating their program, and has yet to develop a policy.
The Military Tuition Assistance program appears to have been saved again, as it has been shut down twice now during the past year. This time it was due to the government shutdown. But last March, Tuition Assistance was suspended because of government sequestration. During the sequestration, the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard suspended their Tuition Assistance programs. The Navy weathered the month-long storm, with its leadership fighting to keep the program up and running. When law makers forced the Department of Defense to make room in their budget to reinstate Tuition Assistance, all of the branches resumed their programs. The Coast Guard’s Tuition Assistance was the lone exception. The Coast Guard’s funding falls under the Department of Homeland Security. Coast Guardsmen’s Tuition Assistance program was never reinstated.
But the Department of Defense officials are maintaining that the TA programs for branches that fall under its control are safe for now. And the DOD says that it is making an effort to prevent interruptions to the program in the future.