JANUARY 4, 2021 – The Navy has modernized the way Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen can pay back tuition assistance (TA) debts beginning in January 2021.
The new program provides service members with the option to pay their debt on a mobile device or computer using a debit card, electronic funds transfer (EFT) or via a PayPal account. Credit cards will not be accepted through this program, and PayPal can only be used if linked to a debit card or bank account.
Until now, service members were required to repay TA debt using a cashier’s check, money order or a payroll transaction—a process that took anywhere from a week to 45 days, according to Tim Driggers, Voluntary Education Business Operations division head.
“This is the first time since the beginning of the tuition assistance program in the mid-nineties that we’ve done electronic debt payments,” said Driggers. “The service members can pay with their bank account using a smartphone as opposed to putting a check in the mail. Since the pilot program began, we’ve seen a reduction in checks by about 60% by doing e-billing on a weekly basis.”
The new capability not only benefits the accounting system, but the service member as well.
“We saw a debt get paid within two hours of service member notification,” said Driggers. “This allows the service member to be in good standing again, so that the TA is available for use immediately.”
The process is streamlined and simple to use for the service members, according to Fred Morales, the TA Collections branch head.
“Once an indebtedness occurs due to a collectible grade, and provided the course has been invoiced by an academic institution, the service member will receive an email with instructions directing them to Pay.gov where they can make the payment electronically,” said Morales. “It’s very easy to use.”
In most cases, debt transactions will be posted to the member’s WebTA account by TA Accounting the next business day after the service member pays their TA debt using Pay.gov.
If a debt payment is not made within 45 days, a file will be sent to Defense Finance Accounting Service (DFAS) to cancel the e-bill, and the debt amount will be taken from the service member through payroll deduction.
For more information regarding the repayment of TA debts, please call: 1-877-838-1659, option 4.
As part of the MyNavy HR Force Development team, Naval Education and Training Professional Development Center (NETPDC) provides products and services that enable and enhance education, training, career development and personnel advancement throughout the Navy. Primary elements of the command include the Voluntary Education Department, the Navy Advancement Center and the Resources Management Department.
Additional information about NETPDC can be found at https://www.netc.navy.mil/NETPDC.
Story by Cheryl Dengler
Naval Education and Training Professional Development Center