The Department of Defense recently announced they would restore the Tuition Assistance Programs that were cut by most branches of the military as a result of the sequestration spending cuts. The sequestration forced unilateral spending cuts across the DoD, leaving each branch of the military to find places to cut spending. Among the first programs eliminated by most branches of the military were the popular Tuition Assistance Programs.
The Air Force, Army, Marines, and Coast Guard all cut their Tuition Assistance Programs as a method for getting under budget. Of the major branches of the military, only the Navy did not cut their TA program, though they were considering a modified program that would only cover a portion of tuition. Thankfully, each branch of the service will restore their Tuition Assistance Programs for their members.
Tuition Assistance Programs Restored by DoD
Cutting Tuition Assistance was an unpopular move that received a lot of backlash from current servicemembers, veterans groups, and even certain members of Congress. However, military leadership was in a bind because the budget cuts were forced upon them.
Restoring Tuition Assistance received enough attention to garner over 100,000 signatures on a petition to the White House. 100,000 signatures is the required minimum to receive a response from the White House. Congress responded by passing legislation that will provide funding to the Department of Defense to enable them to reinstate Tuition Assistance Programs. The bill, General Provisions of the 2013 Appropriations Bill, was signed into law by President Obama in late March.
When will Tuition Assistance be reinstated? As of right now, the Navy is still the only branch of service still operating their Tuition Assistance Program, since they never suspended it. The other branches suspended their Tuition Assistance Programs in Mid March. Military leadership is awaiting the wording of the law and the funding before they can reinstate the programs.
Cuts may still affect Tuition Assistance Programs. The new legislation orders the services to reinstate Tuition Assistance up to their allocated budgets, minus the required 9.4% spending cut initiated by the sequestration. This leaves the potential for some of the services to run out of funds before the end of FY13. It is recommended servicemembers sign up for classes as soon as the Tuition Assistance Programs are reinstated.
There is no word on how the sequestration will affect the future of the Tuition Assistance Programs beyond the current fiscal year.
Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery