Tuition assistance policy revamped for fiscal 2014 based on current economy

| February 7, 2014 | 0 Comments
Students attend courses through TA.

Students attend courses through TA.

Jeff Crawley
Army News Service

Soldiers must now have one year of service following graduation from Advanced Individual Training (AIT) to be eligible for tuition assistance (TA).

For officers, this policy includes one year of service following graduation from the Basic Officer Leader Course.

If an officer was prior enlisted, then the officer’s AIT as an enlisted Soldier will be used to calculate the one year in service.

This policy was one of the TA changes that went into effect Jan. 1; it was spelled out in All Army Activities (ALARACT) Message 317/13.

This change is new to the Army, but it’s not new to the armed forces.

•Cap remains. The fiscal 2013 $250 cap per semester hour did not change. However, Soldiers now can only receive 16 semester hours of TA-funded courses per year, or $4,000. And, even if the total tuition amount is well below the $4,000 cap, only 16 semester hours will be paid.

The old cap was $4,500, which would cover 18 semester hours at $250 per hour.

This change may restrict some of the more industrious Soldiers working toward a degree. Most classes are worth three semester hours of credit. If a Soldier takes a sixth class worth three credits, or a total of 18 semester hours, they will have to pay the full cost of that class because the TA system is not set up to split the cost beyond the 16th semester hour. Of course, students can take coursework beyond 16 hours at their expense.

Soldiers can use TA for 130 semester hours for a bachelor’s degree, according to the ALARACT.

•Economic times. These changes came about because of the economic climate of the federal budget. In fiscal year 2013, the Army spent $335 million in tuition assistance. The Army cannot maintain that level of spending.

The policy changes spread out dollars evenly while allowing Soldiers to use TA without lowering the semester-hour caps, which was a concern.

•Other changes. Soldiers who use TA to fund any portion of an undergraduate degree (associate, bachelor’s) will now be required to have 10 years of service before they can use TA to fund a graduate degree, according to the ALARACT. Soldiers who are currently pursuing a graduate-level program and who use TA to fund any portion of their undergraduate degree will still be allowed to use TA during Fiscal Year ‘14.

Effective Oct. 1 (FY ‘15), Soldiers will have to have the 10-year service requirement. If they do not, they will be blocked from further using TA. Soldiers with less than 10 years of service will not be grandfathered in under the old TA policy, even if they are currently using TA to fund a graduate degree.

Soldiers who do not use TA to fund any portion of their undergraduate degree will not be required to have the 10-year service requirement to TA fund a graduate degree. Soldiers can use TA for 39 semesters hours for a master’s degree.

•Using TA. For Soldiers who want to apply for TA, the education centers at Schofield Barracks and Tripler Army Medical Center highly recommend that they first meet with an Army education guidance counselor to assess where they are academically, and to help them determine their educational goals and their career goals by linking the two, and to stay on course toward degree completion.

The counselor will give Soldiers the steps to set up a GoArmyEd account. This portal is what all Soldiers can use to enroll in their classes and request tuition assistance.

To be eligible for TA, Soldiers must meet physical fitness test and height and weight standards and not have an adverse action flag, according to the TA policy.

The funding level for TA looks great right now because the fiscal year just started.

Points of contact

Get more details about TA or meet with a guidance counselor:

•Visit the Schofield Barracks Education Center, 1565 Kolekole Ave., Bldg. 560, Yano Hall, 2nd floor. Call 655-0800/0805.

•Visit Tripler/Fort Shafter Education Complex at 823 Krukowski Rd., TAMC. Call 433-4182/4184.

•Both centers are open 9 a.m.-5 p.m., weekdays.

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