More than 300,000 active duty servicemembers currently participate in tuition assistance (TA) programs which award up to $4,500 annually for tuition costs for high-school-completion courses and certificate programs, or college degrees.
In light of recent issues where sequestration caused the suspension of the TA programs of the Marine Corps, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard, Congress has proposed an assortment of amendments to assist military members and their families. Perhaps the most important one being an amendment by the House to prevent the services from suspending their tuition assistance plans without Congressional approval.
While funding for the programs was restored via an amendment that traded off spending on political science research, legislators have been mindful of the scope of the potential ramifications had the TA programs been cut, which led to the protective amendment.
As Michael Dakduk, executive director of Student Veterans of America stated, “Restoring tuition assistance is absolutely critical to the long-term vitality of our servicemembers. Education leads to success, both in uniform and out. By cutting tuition assistance, we set a dangerous precedent in our country that education is not valued in our military.”
In addition to protecting tuition assistance, Congress acted on other amendments that will affect servicemembers and their families should they become law.
Kay Hagan, chairwoman of the armed services subcommittee on emerging threats, stated, "Denying educational benefits to our men and women in uniform is not the way to get our fiscal house in order. Many of our service members join the forces with the goal of advancing their educations, and we must keep our promises to them."