American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2011 – Although no changes to the tuition assistance policy will be made in the near term, defense officials stated the tuition assistance program will be considered as part of the holistic review of the military compensation package.
Current policy provides eligible service members up to $4,500 in tuition assistance. The Defense Department will pay up to $250 per semester hour for both undergraduate and graduate studies.
“The department, in consultation with the military service departments, is doing a thorough review of all the benefits included in the military compensation package,” said Jo Ann Rooney, principal deputy undersecretary of defense, personnel and readiness.
“Our goal is that any announcements about changes to existing policies affecting service members’ benefits and compensation will be made after the comprehensive review,” she said.
All military services are providing input to the DOD review, officials said. If any changes are made to the tuition assistance policy, they will be instituted in a deliberate, thoughtful manner maintain the integrity of a joint uniform policy for all service members.
Tuition assistance is a popular benefit for military members, particularly in light of the rising costs of post-secondary education courses. However, due to current fiscal constraints, the services consider these costs unsustainable, officials said. Even if adjustments are made to the program, they emphasized that the department will continue to support its members’ higher education goals.
“Opportunities for personal and professional growth have long been a part of military life, and the Department of Defense is committed to helping service members pursue civilian education while in uniform,” said Robert L. Gordon III, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy.
Among educational offerings at military installations is access to education counselors who provide face-to-face guidance to service members and their families, officials said.
In addition, the Voluntary Education Program portal addresses a full range of educational issues from tuition assistance and financial aid to information on more than 1,800 colleges and universities. The portal may be found at http://apps.mhf.dod.mil/voled.
DOD’s off-duty, voluntary education programs represent one of the world’s largest continuing education programs, officials said. About 300,000 service members enroll in post-secondary courses each year, leading to associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees.
Colleges and universities deliver classroom instruction through an extensive network to hundreds of military installations around the world.