Tuition assistance for soldiers axed by sequester

Tuition assistance for soldiers has joined the list of programs cut as a result of sequestration and budget concerns. The Army announced on Friday the program would be suspended for newly enrolling solders.

Empty Army classroom
Empty classrooms like this in Kleber Kaserne, Germany, may be the new norm. Photo credit: Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes

“This suspension is necessary given the significant budget execution challenges caused by the combined effects of a possible year-long continuing resolution and sequestration,” Paul Prince, an army personnel spokesman at the Pentagon, wrote in an email to Stars and Stripes. “The Army understands the impacts of this action and will re-evaluate should the budgetary situation improve.”

A statement posted Friday on the GoArmyEd.com website read:

The Secretary of the Army has approved the suspension of Tuition Assistance effective 5 p.m. (Eastern Time) on March 8, 2013. Soldiers will no longer be permitted to submit new requests for Tuition Assistance. “However, Soldiers currently enrolled in courses approved for Tuition Assistance are not affected, and will be allowed to complete current course enrollment(s).”

This change in the Army Tuition Assistance program applies to all Soldiers, including the Army National Guard and Army Reserves.

“It is utterly unacceptable that the first casualties of Congress’ inability to act are education benefits for servicemembers,” Michael Dakduk, executive director of Student Veterans Affairs, said in a statement. “The decisions of the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army set a dangerous precedent that educating our nation’s servicemembers and veterans is an expendable option.”

Reactions to the decision were posted on various Facebook pages and websites. A soldier who posted on GoArmyEd’s Facebook page was upset that he hadn’t been contacted personally, saying, “I haven’t gotten anything from my chain of command, GoArmyEd, or my school!”

GoArmyEd noted that in the interim, soldiers can continue to access their GI Bill benefits or use other funding sources, such as grants, scholarships or state tuition assistance where available.

The Army’s announcement follows a similar decision earlier in the week by the Marine Corps, according to KCBD. The Air Force will make a decision on the status of its tuition program within the next two weeks. The Navy has not reduced its tuition funding at this point, but is reviewing the benefit.

KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

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