With all the talk about cutting the DoD budget in 2012, it’s surprising that we haven’t heard anything official about the Pentagon cutting back on military tuition assistance. But, the fact is there will be cuts, the writing is on the wall.
This week the Chief of Continuing Education Programs, Carolyn Baker, told the attendees at the Council of College and Military Educators annual conference that the DoD spent $542 million on tuition assistance in 2010 – $24 million more than 2009. Baker pointed out that increased demand and the growing cost of college tuition are putting a financial strain on the DoD budget. “The current program growth is unsustainable,” said Baker. She also told the CCME audience that the previously promised increase in TA payment rates will not happen.
The looming budget cuts are like the 800 pound gorilla in the room; everyone knows it’s there, but no one wants to directly acknowledge it. When asked, other DoD education leaders confirmed that there will be reductions or added usage restrictions which will impact the military tuition assistance programs. But none of them were able or willing to say how much or when the cuts would go into effect.
There is one exception. According to the Chief of Coast Guard Education and Professional Development, James Lis, the Coast Guard is not likely to see major tuition assistance changes in the near future.