A short time ago I attended a leadership and professional development conference aimed at personnel in each of the three sea services. A wide variety of topics were addressed with a particular focus on diversity and mentorship, but during of the panels over the course of the day, Tuition Assistance frequently came up – and unfortunately each of the general/flag officers representing the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard expressed that with downsizing and sequestration, TA is one of the items being considered on the chopping block. No final decisions have been made, but in a time of hefty budget cuts and early separations and retirements, the fact that TA is on the chopping block should not come as a surprise, even if it is a disappointment. The representative of the Navy at this conference stated that although TA might be reduced or taken away, at least the GI Bill is better than it was in the past. Whatever decision is made, it is clear that if you are eligible to use the GI Bill or TA, you should do so sooner than later – what better excuse to make a dent in your pursuit of a college education (or even finish)?
The Marine Corps just released a message on TA with a series of updates, although by the time this is posted I am sure that most of you will have read it. As funding becomes more restricted, I would not be surprised to see additional restrictions applied. Because I am not an Educational Services Officer and have not utilized TA myself, I am not sure which of these requirements are new, but I have listed most of the relevant information from the message below:
1. Applicants must have a minimum of 24 months time in service
2. Marines must have completed MCIs Leadership and Personal Financial Management
3. Unless an applicant has an Associates degree or 60 credits with a GPA of at least 2.5, TA will only be approved initially for one course
4. If an applicant’s GT score is less than 100, a satisfactory score on an adult basic education exam must be earned prior to receiving TA.
5. Officers must have an EAS of at least 2 years after the completion of their course, and Enlisted must EAS at least 60 days after.
TA will not be authorized for the following:
1. Non-credit courses
2. Fees related to certifications or licensing exams
3. Marines in training status
4. Duplicate degrees or double majors – You must pursue a higher degree than what you already possess.
Additionally, TA funding is now broken into quarters. If the funding is exhausted for a quarter, a student’s TA is deferred until the next quarter.
For Marines interested in finding out more or with question, I highly encourage you to get in touch with your base education office or ESO.