One of the main benefits of joining the military has always been the tuition assistance offered by the government. But because of the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester the U.S. Air Force has joined the Army, the Coast Guard and the Marine Corps and temporarily suspended its tuition-assistance program. The Navy has yet to announce if its suspending the program. The programs provide active-duty service members with up to $4,500 a year to participate in high-school completion courses and certificate programs or to work toward a college degree.
“This suspension is necessary given the significant budget-execution challenges caused by the combined effects of a possible year-long continuing resolution and sequestration,” said Army spokesman Troy A. Rolan Sr. “The Army understands the impacts of this action and will re-evaluate should the budgetary situation improve.”
Payments already approved under the program will be paid, but the changes are expected to leave military personnel scrambling to figure out how to pay for classes for the summer and fall semesters.
In response to the tuition assistance being suspended, supporters of the program started a petition on We The People page of the White House’s website to urge the government to reinstate the program:
Reinstate Military Tuition Assistance and block the Armed Service Branches from any further suspension of Tuition Assistance. This action should be accomplished by Executive Order as Commander-in-Chief.
In spite of our country’s current economic situation and the polarizing politics involved, Service Member benefits such as Tuition Assistance should not be compromised as a result. Access to Higher Education is important to Service Members as it allows for career and professional advancement.
As of today, the petition has obtained the number of signatures required to receive a response from the government.
Service members may still qualify for aid under the G.I. Bill, which, so far, has not been affected.