Changes to Tuition Assistance are Here
What is Your Branch Offering? Find Out!
January 2, 2014 by Mark Dye
I noted on this blog in April of 2013 that the military’s Tuition Assistance (TA) program could be a casualty of budget negotiations in Congress. While it was thankfully saved last spring, there will be some changes to the program in 2014.
Every branch has found ways to ensure their TA programs will have secure funding in 2014, but there will be some changes dependent on the branch of the military you serve.
For example, while the Navy made no changes in its program, the Army has tweaked its program significantly. As noted in the Army Times
On Jan. 1 the Army will place new restrictions on the popular program, including a cap on the number of semester hours that can be paid for annually with TA money.
The new rules apply to officers and enlisted soldiers of the Regular Army, National Guard and Army Reserve who are pursuing college degrees with TA support.
- Soldiers will be limited to 16 semester hours of TA-funded studies during a fiscal year …
- Soldiers will not be allowed to use TA until one year after they complete initial entry training, whether that be the Basic Officer Leadership Course, Officer Candidate School or Advanced Individual Training ...
- Soldiers will not be allowed to use TA for post-baccalaureate degrees until they have completed at least 10 years of service, unless they entered the Army with a bachelor’s degree...
The Air Force kept the amount Airmen will receive the same, but has made a few tweaks to its program that took affect with the new fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 2013 (per Military.com):
Airmen who apply for TA will be required to obtain supervisor approval for all requests. Requests for TA for foreign language courses will only be approved if they are part of a degree or are on the approved language shortage list. TA requests from Airmen who have unfavorable information files, failed/overdue physical fitness testing, received referral performance reports or are on a control roster will automatically be denied.
The Coast Guard was also affected and made some major changes to their program, including large cuts in the amount received (again, from Military.com, emphasis added):
The new 2014 tuition assistance policy will mark the return of the pre-2002 75% coverage formula for tuition assistance. Coast Guardsmen will now have to pay at least 25% of their tuition out-of-pocket. In addition, the Coast Guard will only cover up to $187.50 per credit hour – the member will be responsible for paying any balance above this amount.
Under the new version of the policy, the FY2014 annual per member tuition assistance limit will be set at $2,250, which is a 50% cut from the previous year’s annual tuition cap.
All of these changes will affect tens of thousands of service members, so if you haven’t already, contact your Education Service Officer (ESO)—they can provide you much more detailed information regarding your options.