After $46 billion in sequestration-related budget cuts forced the Army, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard to suspend tuition assistance in early March, political leaders found themselves facing considerable opposition to the move.
Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., quickly introduced a bill that mandated the Department of Defense find funding to reinstate tuition assistance. By March 21, Congress had passed the revised spending bill, and President Barack Obama signed it into law five days later.
Still, even well into the first week of April, service members are not receiving tuition assistance. Those currently taking courses paid for with tuition assistance aren’t affected, but no new applications are allowed at present.
The Pentagon has stated that representatives from the Department of Defense and the tuition assistance program are now discussing how to comply with the new law. Logistical and budgetary concerns within the military mean it may be some time yet before the program is fully reactivated.
Service members with questions or concerns should contact their Education Services Office for additional information. The Navy is the only branch of the military that did not suspend tuition assistance.
Military tuition assistance, when active, provides service members with up to $4,500 annually for classes. The program started after World War II, and has grown steadily over the decades. More than 538,000 military personnel took advantage of tuition assistance last fiscal year.