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Air Force suspends military tuition assistance

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Sylvia Saab)

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Sylvia Saab)

WASHINGTON -- In the wake of sequestration, the Air Force officially suspended military tuition assistance March 11.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley announced the Air Force has officially suspended military TA for the remainder of fiscal 2013.

The program will continue to be evaluated to determine the way ahead in fiscal 2014.

The Defense Department's comptroller issued guidance to all of the services to "consider significant reductions in funding new tuition assistance applicants, effective immediately and for the duration of the current fiscal situation," said Navy Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde, a Pentagon spokeswoman. The Army and Marine Corps canceled their TA programs March 8.

Effective March 11, Airmen are not permitted to submit new requests for TA. Airmen currently enrolled in, or approved for future courses, are not affected and are allowed to complete those courses.

"The Air Force has reached a turning point after a decade of war and substantial growth in its operations and resources," Donley said, adding that the Air Force has had to make difficult choices to preserve readiness, to include: deep cuts to flying hour programs, cancellation of Air Force training and education programs and civilian furloughs. "This is an additional step the Air Force unfortunately had to take to operate within mandated budget limitations."

"We know how education strengthens our force," he said. "We encourage Airmen to continue their pursuit of higher education through the variety of programs that are available."
Those include the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty, (Chapter 30), Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve (Chapter 1606), Reserve Education Assistance Program (Chapter 1607), the Post 9/11 GI Bill, federal grants and federal financial aid. National Guard Airmen may also be eligible for their state's individual TA benefits.

"Believe me, this was a tough decision because our Air Force truly values education," said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody. "We're still looking at the impacts for fiscal year 14 and will do our best to have TA reinstated, although we'll likely need to review the eligibility requirements to ensure sustainability."

Airmen should contact their local education centers with questions and to get updates.

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