Breaking news on the tuition assistance front: I wanted to make sure that you all noticed this report by my colleague Terry Howell: Coast Guard To Cut Tuition Assistance Rates. This isn’t a huge surprise, as other services have also announced changes to their tuition assistance programs. In this time of financial stress, all ancillary programs are being evaluated for their effectiveness, and officials are considering ways to reduce their costs.
The Army is working on plans to change tuition eligibility assistance in the near future, as reported at The Military Guide’s Sweeping Changes to the Army’s Tuition Assistance Program Beginning January 2014. The Army currently has the most generous tuition assistance guidelines, so it is not surprising that changes are occurring. These changes include delaying eligibility for benefits until after a soldier has met certain career milestones.
The Marine Corps has announce new tuition assistance guidelines that became effective 1 October 2013. From the number of revisions to the MARADMIN, it seems that there was some confusion but they are working out the proper language. The changes to the Marine Corps program are pretty extensive and include quite a few limitations.
The Air Force added a few new requirements for fiscal year 2014, including the permission of your supervisor and restricted access for airmen who are not fulfilling the responsibilities of their jobs. This includes people who are under disciplinary action and those who do not meet the physical fitness standards.
I haven’t seen any changes to Navy tuition assistance for 2014. The Navy currently has the strictest eligibility requirements, and the Navy’s tuition assistance program is much less expensive than comparable programs. The Navy has been making small changes over the past few years.
I have long believed that tuition assistance is probably going to be subject to cuts. As always, I encourage you to pursue your education as early as reasonably possible, and keep up-to-date on official announcements and policy developments.