End of a Military Free Ride?

The Defense Department is said to be considering changes to its tuition assistance for active-duty military members that would make students responsible for up to 25 percent of tuition costs. The budget-cutting move would affect more than 300,000 students who receive tuition assistance, especially those who pay less than $250 per credit hour — a group that includes many community college students as well as students at for-profit institutions, which frequently tie their tuition prices for military service members to the maximum benefit payment.

American Public Education Inc., a for-profit college company whose American Military University focuses on members of the armed services, suggested in its second quarter earnings call this month that the cuts were likely, and said they would be announced soon. The Defense Department has not confirmed whether any cuts will take place.

“We’re looking at all options to ensure the benefit is available for everyone rather than lose it completely because of our fiscally prudent environment,” Maj. Monica Matoush, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement that noted increases in the scope and cost of the agency’s tuition assistance programs in recent years. “Any changes to the tuition assistance program would be made after considering all options and would be the result of extensive analysis and the review of all alternatives.”

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