Military Tuition Assistance Program Likely to Change

Military Tuition Assistance Program Likely to Change
  • Opening Intro -

    Since 1944, the United States has offered members of its military branches a lucrative fringe benefit to help them adjust to life after their service to the country ends.

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Current G.I. Bill may be updated.

WASHINGTON — Originally known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 and later simply as the “G.I. Bill,” this act has morphed into what is known today as the Montgomery G.I. Bill, which allows active duty members of the military to enjoy federally funded tuition to help cover the cost of college.

Political Support

The G.I. Bill in its many forms has always enjoyed strong bipartisan support, with neither Republicans nor Democrats willing to cut benefits as a way to curb federal spending. The thinking for several generations is that Americans owe service men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our freedom. However, today’s economic challenges mean that politicians are exploring ways to reduce spending and every indication out there is that the military tuition assistance program will soon change.

The current program is not likely to go away. Instead, eligible students may be expected to pay up to 25 percent of their tuition costs as reported by “Inside Higher Ed.” [1] The Defense Department has yet to call for cuts although when Congress reconvenes in September, although military spending is expected to undergo scrutiny as part of a larger plan to reign in runaway costs. [2]

For-Profit Schools

Cutting back the tuition assistance program may also be aimed at reining in select for-profit colleges and universities that cater military members. These schools, including American Military University and to a lesser extent, the University of Phoenix, set the cost of tuition accordingly, up to the maximum $250 per credit allowed. Critics contend that such schools take billions from taxpayers, by charging the highest amounts possible.

Stripping the military tuition assistance program has been proposed before. Indeed, as the program currently stands, active duty personnel must enroll in the program and pay $100 per month for 12 months before being permitted to access their educational benefit. That corresponds with fulfilling a minimum service length requirement. Reservists are also eligible, however they must be “actively drilling and have a 6-year obligation in the Selected Reserve to be eligible.” [3]

References

[1] Inside Higher Ed: End of a Military Free Ride?; Libby A. Nelson; August 17, 2011

[2] The Foundry: Secretaries of State, Defense Acknowledge Entitlement Spending Crisis; Mackenzie Eaglen; August 16, 2011

[3] GI Bill: Montgomery G.I. Bill

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