Military Advantage

Congress Passes Bill to Save Tuition Assistance

The Continuing Resolution, now known as the 'Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act' passed the house today with the amendment protecting military tuition assistance intact. This will force the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps to restart their tuition assistance programs at the previous levels through Sept. 30. Of course the last remaining hurdle will be the President’s signature, but nobody expects that to be an issue. However, there are some lingering questions: How soon will the service’s be required to reinstate the programs? In most cases legislation provides up to 180 days to take action. Although it is not expected to take that long, it remains unclear as to how long they can put it off. Will the services rollback the TA payment rates to pre-2002 levels in FY2014? The amendment only requires TA to be reinstated for the remainder of FY2013, which ends on Sept. 30. The Navy recently indicated they may elect to reduce the tuition assistance benefit by 25 percent this Oct. 1. The military currently pays 100 percent tuition assistance up to $250 per semester credit hour not to exceed $4,500 per Fiscal Year. A 25 percent reduction would mean the military would only cover up to $187.50 per credit hour, which means service members would face increased out of pocket expenses. Read more about the possible TA rollback. What about the Coast Guard? Will they follow the other four military service branches? Considering they are not part of the DoD, it is not yet clear if the Coast Guard will also be required to reinstate TA. According to columnist Tom Philpott, the Coast Guard will likely be pressured to follow. Again, stay tuned as this continues to play out…

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