Updated: Sweeping Changes To The Army’s Tuition Assistance Program Beginning January 2014
Update: Alaract 317/2013 was published on 2 December 2013 – The message clarifies changes to the Tuition Assistance (TA) Policy for the remainder of FY14, with the changes going into effect on 1 January 2014:
- Soldiers will be eligible for TA upon successful completion of 1 year of service, following completion of Initial Military Training (IMT).
- Soldiers are eligible for a post bachelor’s degree after 10 years of service. There is no 10 year requirement if TA was not used for the initial bachelor’s degree.
- Each year Soldiers are covered for up to 16 semester hours per year, at the maximum rate of $250 per semester hour.
With the ever rising cost of college tuition, Tuition Assistance provides Soldiers the opportunity to further their education while serving. The US Army has one of the most Soldier-centric and robust TA programs available. It offers financial assistance for voluntary off-duty education programs in support of a Soldier’s professional and personal self-development goals.
TA is available for courses that are offered in the classroom or by distance learning. The courses must be offered by schools that are registered in GoArmyEd and are accredited by accrediting agencies that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Providing 100% of the tuition and fees charged by a College, up to the established per semester hour cap of $250, and fiscal cap of $4,500. Additional details on the provisions of TA are found in AR 621-5.
Unfortunately, according to the Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA) that’s due to change.
SMA Chandler during an August 7th interview with the Army Times:
“I think we are going to have changes in tuition assistance! While it’s unlikely that the popular tuition assistance program will be abruptly shutdown as it was in March, Chandler noted that the Army has the broadest tuition assistance program of any of the services right now, and “it’s expensive, and I believe there are some refinements we can make within that program.”
Sweeping Changes to Army Tuition Assistance
It’s been a few months since the SMA spoke about altering TA, now the grapevine is starting to spread word of the pending changes.
Below is the G-1’s note regarding upcoming changes to the Tuition Assistance program:
We have taken a hard look at the Tuition Assistance (TA) program with a focus on the intent of the program – to provide financial assistance for voluntary off-duty education in support of Soldiers’ professional and personal self-development goals. It also supports retaining quality Soldiers and assists in returning Soldiers to civilian careers along with supporting three of the seven ALDS imperatives:
1) commitment to the Army Profession, life-long learning
2) training, education and experience components of leader development and
3) management of the military/civilian talent to benefit the institution and individual.
In the next few days we will announce some new policies effective 1 January 2014. Those include the following: Soldiers cannot use TA until after successful completing their first year in the Army after graduation from AIT. They are restricted to 16SHs/year and Soldiers cannot use TA for a second, higher-level degree until completion of 10 years time in service.
Soldiers will continue to receive $250/SH and current policy limits Soldiers to 130 SHs for completion of a bachelor’s degree and 39 SHs for a master’s degree. Soldiers cannot be funded for a second equivalent degree, i.e., no second bachelor’s or master’s degree. All courses must be part of an approved degree plan. TA cannot be used for first professional degrees, e.g., PhD,MD, JD.
In addition to DA adverse action flags, we will continue our policy to not allow TA for Soldiers who are flagged for APFT/Height/Weight.
Ask for your support in getting the message out to commanders and units to ease any concerns they might have over these new limitations. This policy is designed to maximize use of TA for all Soldiers across all components in a constrained budget environment.
Allen D. Clifton
HQDA DCS G1 SGM
Over the years I’ve counseled NCO’s, Soldiers and applicants about the importance of continuing their education. Both, to increase their chances of being promoted, and to better posture them for Life after the Army. I’m truly interested in seeing how this will be received by the Soldiers…
What are your thoughts?