Update: Military Tuition Assistance Programs have been restored by Congress. The dates will be released in the near future.
The US Air Force was the latest branch to suspend tuition assistance, following the cuts made by US Marines and the Army. The tuition assistance cuts were part of a larger set of cuts caused by the sequestration, the result of the Budget Control Act of 2011 which created automatic spending cuts as part of the budget passed by Congress.
The original goal of the Budget Control Act was to cut the federal deficit over the next decade. When Congress couldn’t agree on the language of the cuts, they wrote in a set of sweeping budget cuts in order to get the law passed at the last hour to avoid reaching the spending cliff. The goal was to address these cuts before they took effect. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen and virtually every government agency was caught in the cross-fire. This includes the DoD, which is forced to make broad spending cuts across the board.
Here is how the sequestration impacts USAF operations and civilian jobs. In addition to the Air Force cutting flying hours, civilian hours, and training programs, the Air Force has been forced to make other cuts to morale and support programs, including the popular Tuition Assistance Program, effective March 11, 2013. According to the Air Force, this will affect approximately 110,000 members.
USAF Cuts Tuition Assistance
Here is a roundtable discussion with Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, CMSAF James Cody. This is a video well worth watching to better understand how the decision to cut Tuition Assistance was made and why.
As you heard from CMSAF James Cody, the Tuition Assistance Program has only been paused, it has not been eliminated forever. The only issue is we don’t know when it will be restored, as that hinges upon the sequestration being lifted and a new budget being passed.
CMSAF Cody also discussed several other aspects of how cutting the Tuition Assistance Program will affect USAF members, including the impact on Enlisted Performance Reports (EPRs), retention and recruiting, and other aspects.
How to pay for classes if you lost Tuition Assistance. There are several ways you can pay for classes if you are no longer able to use Tuition Assistance. First and foremost, you may have access to the Montgomery GI Bill, or the Post-9/11 GI Bill. These benefits are most valuable after you leave the service, so if you plan on saving your benefit, or if you have already transferred your GI Bill benefits, you may have other options. Some of them include grants such as the Pell Grant or other government grants, private military scholarships, state benefits programs for Guard members, or federal student loans.
Visit your base Education and Training Office for more information about your options for paying for classes.
Photo credit: Scott*