<p>Recent changes to the Tuition Assistance program for the Army result in a loss of benefits that should have caused a greater uproar. I understand and agree with many of the changes such as:</p><p> </p><p>o Requiring a year of service prior to beginning an undergraduate degree</p><p>o Requiring ten years of service before beginning a graduate degree</p><p>o Flagged service members losing eligibility</p><p> </p><p>What concerns me is the stealth reduction in TA annual benefit funds. According to the Army we will still be eligible for $4,500 per year with a cap of $250 per credit. The kicker is that we will now also be limited to 16 credits per year. Previously there was no annual credit limit, only a per term credit limit of 12 credit hours that was waiverable.</p><p> </p><p>Some quick math tells you that $250/credit x 16 credits is $4,000. In other words our TA benefit has been reduced by $500 per year. The only way to spend that $500 is to use it for a one time only certification or diploma. Even if you take advantage of the certification option it means that year two of your degree and there after will result in a hard reduction in benefits of $500 per year.</p><p> </p><p>Apparently someone realized that soldiers are less likely to complain to their congresional representatives when the loss of benefit is only realized if a service member is going to school full time (12 credits/semester per Federal guidance). Where was the outrage we heard when the Army was outright proposing cuts to the amount of TA per year? This is a very stealthy way to cut benefits.</p><p> </p><p>According to guidance from GoArmyEd.com you can't even split credits if for instance you used 10 credits in your first term and then took two more 4 credit classes in your second term. You would have to fully pay for the second class out of your own pocket because you would be over the 16 credit limit by 2 credits.</p><p> </p><p>http://www.army.mil/article/116405/Tuition_assistance_changes_to_take_effect</p><div class="pta-link-card"><div class="pta-link-card-picture"><img src="http://usarmy.vo.llnwd.net/e2//c/images/2013/12/04/323356/size3.jpg"></div><div class="pta-link-card-content"><div class="pta-link-card-title"><a href="http://www.army.mil/article/116405/Tuition_assistance_changes_to_take_effect" target="_blank">Tuition assistance changes to take effect for 2014</a></div><div class="pta-link-card-description">Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, there will be a cap on the number of semester hours that can be taken using Tuition Assistance, and tighter TA eligibility rules.</div></div><div style="clear: both;"></div><div class="pta-box-hide"><i class="icon-remove"></i></div></div>
Edited >1 y ago
Posted >1 y ago
Tuition Assistance isn't an entitlement. It's nice that we have 100%, but it wasn't like that when I joined. When I came in the Army it was 75% and you paid out of pocket or used the GI Bill to cover the rest, meaning you really had to want it. Paying 100% allows the Army to keep Soldiers in while they get their degrees, instead of getting out to pursue college. You can still use your GI Bill if you want to complete more than 16 credits in a year.
As far as waiting a year, it was felt that Soldiers should be focused on learning their jobs for the first year, and you don't have to wait till the 10 year mark if you didn't use TA for your Bachelor. As far as flagged Soldiers, they are flagged, and they need to overcome their flag. TA is not an entitlement.
I know that it sucks to have our usable TA cut by by $500 a year, but it's crunch time. I'm just happy that they didn't go back to 75% covered by TA. At least this way a Soldier can complete a Bachelor and a Masters degree before retiring and still transfer their full GI Bill to their dependents.
If I can offer any advice to the lower enlisted; I would say "You better jump on it while you can, because you will eventually regret it, as I did". After 9 years I just started working on a degree, and I am debating on getting out of the military. Use the time wisely and at least knock out some credits while these benefits are still around.
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