Washington, D.C. -U.S. Senator Kay Hagan, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, received confirmation this week from top Navy and Marine Corps leaders that they have reversed course on proposals submitted earlier this month to drastically reduce funding for the Tuition Assistance (TA) program after Hagan questioned the proposed cuts. At an Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday, General James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, said the Marines Corps and Navy, respectively, would fund TA at 100 percent.
“Tuition Assistance is a critical recruitment and retention tool that allows our servicemembers to further their education as they serve our country,” Hagan said. “I am pleased that after I questioned their proposals for deep reductions, the Navy and Marine Corps have committed to fully funding this effective program that benefits not only our brave men and women, but our entire country as they eventually transition into the civilian workforce. I will continue to ensure our servicemembers receive the education benefits they have earned.”
“We’re going pay 100 percent of cost of courses,” General Amos said at the hearing. “[TA] will be funded at 100 percent.”
“We’ll fund Tuition Assistance at 100 percent,” Admiral Greenert said at the hearing. “Funding Tuition Assistance at 100 percent through FY 2015 is a great return on investment.”
The Navy and Marine Corps planned to cut Tuition Assistance and pass 25 percent of the cost of courses to servicemembers when they released their proposed budgets on March 4. Hagan’s office immediately questioned the cuts in a request for information (RFI) to the Navy and Marine Corps. Three weeks later, both services have changed course and will now fully fund Tuition Assistance in FY 2015.
While the Marine Corps and Navy sought Tuition Assistance reductions that would have shifted the some of the cost burden to servicemembers, other branches of the military have avoided passing on costs.
Last year, Hagan worked with Republican Senator Jim Inhofe (OK) to pass an amendment that reinstated the Tuition Assistance program for servicemembers after the Air Force, Army and Marine Corps decided to suspend Tuition Assistance benefits.
In FY 2012, approximately 300,000 servicemembers participated in the Tuition Assistance program. In the same time period, active duty servicemembers enrolled in the program earned more than 50,000 degrees, diplomas or certificates.