Military branches face tuition assistance suspensions
by, Skylar Brown
The sequester is now in effect and will reduce federal spending for the 2013 fiscal year by $85 billion and $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. Most of the attention on the sequester has been focused on cuts to the Transportation Security Administration, cancellation of White House tours, budget cuts to the Meals on Wheels services, along with others programs.
The military will also be facing a $42.7 billion but in the 2013 budget, which is intended to reduce defense spending, not including military personnel. These sequester cuts will still be affecting members of the military though. The Army and Marine Corps have canceled tuition assistance programs according to the Department of Defense. Tuition assistance for the military offers financial assistance to service members who choose to pursue off-duty or voluntary education. This assistance covers up to $4,500 each fiscal year and covers tuition, lab fees, enrollment fees, special fees, and computer fees.
According to an Army fact sheet, “[the] suspension is necessary given the significant budget execution challenges caused by the combined effects of a possible year-long continuing resolution and sequestration.” However, in a sense, the military is taking away pay from military personnel since according the military.com. tuition assistance “is not a loan; it should be viewed as money you have earned just like your base pay.” Marine Corporal John Brown said, ” a lot of marines are angry that they have lost their [tuition assistance] but not the navy.” He also went on to say, ” I have not used it but now it’s just $4,500 that I can’t use now.”
Soldiers and Marines will no longer be able to submit new requests for tuition assistance; which, if going off of the definition of tuition assistance by military.com is depriving service members of services and money they have earned. According to a report by the American Council on Education, enrollment by service members in higher education institutions has more than doubled between 2009 and 2012. These cuts could hinder the ability of the nearly 1 million service members readjusting to society, after the military, over the next five years, according to the Defense Department.
The COD veterans affairs office said that most of the veterans attending campus use the GI Bill to assist with the education fees and that there are many other options for veterans to get financial assistance. They also said that the tuition assistance program was cut because it is seen as more of a luxury to supplement programs like the GI Bill. COD veterans are still eligible for the Cal-Vet fee waiver, the Montgomery GI Bill, VA payment rates, and they can also receive credit for military service.
So far only the Army and the Marine Corps, a subdivision of the Navy, have cancelled their tuition assistance programs but administrators believe that the other branches will follow suit.