Most of us know that the Tuition Assistance Program was reinstated for our Marines. But what does that really mean? Can we count on the Tuition Assistance program to stay around indefinitely? Check out this article which delves into what happened and where we go from here.
Thanks to overwhelming backlash from service members, veteran organizations, civilians and even some members of Congress, the Department of Defense has decided to reinstate the tuition assistance programs that were previously threatened by sequestration budget cuts.
When the budget crunch hit the federal government, individual branches were forced to make tough decisions to cut spending. As a result, four of the branches – Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marine Corps – said they would terminate their tuition assistance programs, which provide eligible service members with up to $4,500 per year to help with tuition and various educational expenses while they go to school.
The backlash included this petition, which accrued over 120,000 signatures – enough to warrant a response from the White House.
The petition was also supplemented by Senators James Inhofe and Kay Hagan, who spearheaded an amendment to the federal funding legislation for the fiscal year. It’s called the General Provisions of the 2013 Appropriations Bill and it requires the DoD to look elsewhere for budget cuts, essentially protecting education assistance for the rest of the year. President Obama signed the bill into law last month.
It should be noted that the bill only protects education assistance for the current fiscal year, and it’s still possible that any or all of the branches could run out of funding before the year is over. That’s why it’s important, once the programs are fully reinstated, to sign up as soon as possible. Funding will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s still unclear how sequestration will affect these programs in the future.
Don’t Forget the Alternatives
There are several other grants and educational assistance programs in place to help service members, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other individual programs depending on what branch you serve. You’re also eligible for the same grants, scholarships and student loan programs as civilians. If you’re planning on going to school in the summer or fall and need financial aid, you should start by filling out a FAFSA.
Lastly, don’t forget to make your voice heard. Contact your representatives and tell them what you think about the budget cuts and tuition assistance programs.
About the Author: Jake Butler is a financial consultant and blogger writing informative and entertaining pieces on the military lifestyle. He draws his inspiration from his grandfather, a career-retired Marine Corps officer and his uncle, an active member of the Army Reserve. He currently writes for Pioneer Services.