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A proposed amendment to a Senate funding bill would restore military tuition assistance for new enrollments, which was recently suspended because of the federal sequester.
The amendment to a bill to fund federal programs through the current fiscal year (FY 2013) would re-open new enrollments in the Department of Defense’s (DoD) tuition assistance program for active duty servicemembers. The program was capped on March 1 as part of the sequester, which mandates across-the-board cuts for most federal programs.
Amendment #72—which was proposed by Sens. James Inhofe (R-Olka.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and supported by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)—is scheduled for a vote on March 18.
In FY 2012, $568 million was spent on military tuition assistance. In the Army alone, more than 201,000 soldiers were enrolled in the program last year, of which about 9,300 earned college degrees.
Tuition assistance is not duplicative of GI Bill assistance, according to AACC. The GI Bill is designed for when soldiers transition from the military and can attend college full time. Tuition assistance educates service members who can attend part time while in military.
The Inhofe-Hagan amendment would not add more spending but rather use the flexibility DoD has when it comes to its operations-and-maintenance account to ensure servicemembers retain educational opportunities.
Hagan’s letter to Defense Secretary Charles Hagel regarding the suspension of tuition assistance.
“Higher education is one of the top reasons why our men and women join and remain in our nation’s all-volunteer military force,” Inhofe, who is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a press release. “Tuition assistance is a cost-effective way to educate service men and women, improve their combat effectiveness and better prepare them for leadership positions within the military and re-entry into the civilian workforce.”
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