Yesterday, Thursday, March 21st, Congress voted to protect the popular Tuition Assistance program. The House passed the continuing resolution 318-109. The legislation includes sequestration’s $85 billion across-the-board cuts, meaning that while the TA program was saved, many other government programs will be affected.
For many young service members this is the first opportunity they have ever had to continue their education and many see it as the most valuable benefit the military provides for them. By upholding this important education benefit for our military, we are demonstrating to those who serve how much the American people owe them for their service. Congress did the right thing restoring funding to TA. We count on our troop’s honor and integrity and should give no less in return.
The Tuition Assistance program began in 1972 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Budget cuts caused by the Sequester went into effect in March. As a result the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force cut the tuition assistance to the TA program. This did not sit well with members of the military, veterans and lawmakers. Groups including Student Veterans of America, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion have been advocating for a restoration of funding.
Courses and degree programs may be academic or technical and can be taken from two or four year institutions on installation, off-installation, or by distance learning for military. The institution must be accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the Department of Education. Tuition is paid directly to the school by the service branch.
The Armed Forces offers soldiers, sailors, marines, guardsman, and airmen several programs to support their education goals including up to 100% Tuition Assistance for college courses taken during off-duty hours. In addition to degree programs, Tuition Assistance, often referred to as TA, is available to soldiers to complete a high school diploma and to complete certificate programs. However, TA will not be approved to complete credentials at the same or a lower educational level. TA is not authorized for programs beyond a master’s degree.
Service members need to first check with an education counselor for the specifics involving TA with either a visit to their local installation education office or by going online to a virtual education center. TA could be used for the following programs:
- Vocational & Technical Programs for Military
- Undergraduate Programs for Military
- Graduate Programs for Military
- Independent Study for Military
- Distance Learning Programs for Military
In order for military service members to be eligible for TA education benefits, he or she must have enough time remaining in the service to complete the course for which he or she applied. After the completion of a course, an officer using TA must fulfill an active duty service obligation that runs parallel with-not in addition to-any existing service obligation.
Each branch of the services has their own criteria for eligibility, obligated service, application process and restrictions. This money is usually paid directly to the institution by the individual services. This military education benefit is one of the most valuable benefits given to those who serve our nation. Tuition Assistance helps active duty soldiers and Army reservists earn an education to advance their military careers and transition to civilian life.