During the 2012 Council of College and Military Educators (CCME) symposium, Carolyn L. Baker, Chief, Voluntary Education Programs, gave an overview of where we currently stand with the DoD’s Education MOU and where we could expect to be in the future.
Current MOU Status Report
Here is what you likely already knew:
- The Department of Defense granted a 90-day extension, from December 30, 2011, to March 30, 2012 for institutions to sign the DoD Tuition Assistance Program Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
- 1902 institutions (those known to serve military students) have signed. However there are 293 schools who have yet to sign. According to DoD, these schools serve a small population of servicemembers — primarily Reserve Component. DoD says “The extension will allow additional time for these institutions to sign.”
NOTE: What they didn’t say was that the DoD is currently addressing certain portions of the MOU that have caused some schools to resist signing the agreement. (see below for details).
- Any changes to the MOU will not require Institutions that have already signed or are in the process of signing the DoD MOU to re-sign or make changes to their application.
- Only the implementation date of the policy has changed to March 30, 2012. No matter what changes in the legal language of the MOU, the policy will continue to require all institutions participating in the Military Tuition Assistance (TA) program to have signed the memorandum of understanding with the DoD.
Revising the MOU
To their credit the DoD is working with several stakeholders (including schools, veteran service organizations, and the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee) to resolve many of the issues that have caused concern.
The following is a list of the areas that institutions of higher education are concerned about — most deal with areas of school sovereignty and flexibility:
MOU Sect 3.d. (1) Adhering to the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Consortium Principles, Criteria, and Military Student Bill of Rights; especially waiving degree residency requirements.
MOU Sect. 3.d. (2) Recognize, accept, and award military training and education credit where appropriate, from the Army/ACE Registry Transcript System IHE.
MOU Sect. 4. c. Educational Plan (1) Institutions will provide an evaluated educational plan to the Service member and his or her Service.
The Senate HELP Committee directed the DoD to address the following concerns:
- Schools should be required to provide full disclosure of information – accreditation, graduation rates, course completion rates, etc.
- Aggressive marketing and loan defaults.
- Ensure service members and veterans are receiving an education that will lead them to employment, certification, and licensure.
Nearly all the VSO concerns overlapped the HELP committee’s issues with the MOU. The one additional area that veterans’ service organizations wanted DoD to focus on was a requirement for schools to meet servicemembers and veteran’s special needs. Although this may seem odd since active duty troops rarely if ever require access accommodations, the VSOs are concerned that wounded servicemembers should be able to remain enrolled in their selected institutions after they leave the military.
According to Ms. Baker, the DoD is working to ensure the stakeholder’s concerns are adressed as soon as possible.