Sailors to Keep 100% of TA Incentive -- For Now

A history professor for the Navy College Program for Afloat College Education, gives an American history lecture to sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke. U.S. Navy

The U.S. Navy will continue to cover 100 percent of sailors' tuition costs through September of next year, the chief of Naval Operations announced this week. Adm. Jonathan Greenert told sailors at an all-hands call in Mayport, Fla., on Tuesday that he wanted tuition assistance to remain at 100 percent for fiscal year 2015. The all hands call was live streamed over the Internet.

However, Greenert did not exclude the possibility of introducing at some point a split-pay model in which the Navy would pay 75 percent and the sailor 25 percent of tuition costs.

Greenert said the Navy may eventually ask sailors to put some "skin in the game," but he said he wanted tuition assistance to be at 100 percent for fiscal year 2015.

The Navy increased tuition assistance from 75 percent to 100 percent in 2002 in an effort to boost recruitment and retention. That policy has been a mainstay of the Navy's program ever since.

Before Tuesday's announcement, Greenert and other top Navy officials had been floating the possibility at various all-hands calls the idea of reducing the incentive as early as next year. Such a move would have put the Navy in step with the other service branches, which have all tightened their programs in one way or another.

Greenert stressed the importance of education and the program's role in helping sailors make the transition from the Navy to civilian life.

"I want educated sailors; I want you to leave with all the certifications you can so that you can get a job immediately." Greenert said.

Last week, Navy officials said there was a surplus of tuition-assistance money because enrollment was lower than expected, with 3,000 fewer enrollments than at the same time last year. Officials attributed the drop in enrollment to the government shutdown in October and uncertainty about the federal budget.

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