Marine Corps Backs Off Tuition Assistance Cuts

The Marines Corps has retreated from the tuition assistance cuts the service announced less than two weeks ago, according to a Marine Corps administrative message released Wednesday, but they are warning that TA funds will probably run out well before the end of fiscal 2012.

The administrative message restored tuition assistance to its fiscal 2011 levels, which set the cap at $250 per credit hour and $4,500 per fiscal year. It notes that students affected by the Oct. 17 change will be eligible for TA coverage for any costs that would have been paid under TA in fiscal 2011.

However, the message says, "There has been no commensurate increase to tuition assistance funding allocated for FY-12. Therefore, all Marines are encouraged to wisely utilize tuition assistance to maximize Marine Corps financial resources. … Even with prudent utilization measures in place it is likely that FY-12 tuition assistance funds will be exhausted well before the end of FY-12."

The message asks commanders to be conservative in approving TA requests.
Marine Corps spokeswoman Maj. Shawn Haney said the return to the 2011 policy was ordered by the Defense Department, but said the Marine Corps 2012 TA budget is still expected to be only $28 million, or just over half the 2011 budget.

The new policy caps graduate course funding at $250 per credit hour, rather than the Marines’ previous rate of $350. Haney said this is in line with the Pentagon’s 2011 policy.

On Oct. 17, the Marines announced deep tuition assistance cuts, capping funding at $175 per course for undergraduate students and capping the number of credit hours covered by TA at five.
Haney said that about 85 percent of Marines who use tuition assistance used less than five credit hours per year anyway, so the cap was designed to make sure those service members could continue to benefit from TA.


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