DoD makes changes to TA
By Cpl. Brendan Roethel
| | August 22, 2014
Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort -- Military-wide changes to the military’s Tuition Assistance program will require troops to pay back funds if they perform poorly in class beginning Aug. 28.
Service members taking undergraduate courses will have to achieve a grade of C or higher, and those taking graduate-level classes must obtain a grade of B or higher, or else they will be subject to “recoupment” and may have to pay out-of-pocket cash retroactively for the class’s costs. These changes were enacted by Defense Department officials, according to a DoD press release announced, Aug. 10.
“Service members who receive an incomplete grade for a class will have to repay their TA money unless they fail to complete the class and convert the incomplete into a satisfactory grade,” said David Ellard, the education service officer for the Tri-Command. “Tuition Assistance also no longer covers laboratory fees or other fees that come on top of tuition. Service members may have to pay out of pocket for those fees.”
The DoD’s TA costs have soared in recent years as the benefit became more generous, school costs increased and more service members sought to participate. But now, as the Pentagon is facing long-term budget cuts, officials are scaling back the level of payments and revising some eligibility rules.
A Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, said the new policy’s aim is to improve student performance and exceptions will be granted on an individual basis.
“Setting stricter minimum grade requirement standards for coursework when a service member is using TA funds is part of an overarching strategy to improve military student success,” Christensen said, during a press conference Aug. 8. “Tuition dollars and military student time is both limited and valuable so we want them to maintain focus and understanding expectation is critical.
“Military students are not traditional nor are they full-time students given their military duties and responsibilities. Therefore, on a case-by-case basis waivers to the Department’s policy may be authorized for service members who fail to meet the minimum grade requirements standards of volunteer education programs with extenuating circumstances, such as deployments, changed duty schedules and other circumstances outside their control.”