On Wednesday the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan amendment to restore Tuition Assistance for military service members.
In early March, the Marines, Army and Air Force abruptly suspended Tuition Assistance for the remainder of fiscal year 2013. Service members who are currently enrolled were eligible to complete their coursework, but no new students were permitted to receive assistance.
The military branches reported the cuts were a result of budgeting issues related to sequestration and they expect to save $250-300 million from its termination. The Tuition Assistance program allows service members to attend school part-time while serving the nation.
The bill, introduced by North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan and Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, would limit the program’s funds from being reduced beyond the overall percentage by which the Services’ Operations and Maintenance accounts are cut because of sequestration. The bill was included in the final version of the six-month continuing resolution to fund the federal government for the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year.
Hagan said that she is pleased the Democrats and Republicans could come together and pass the amendment.
“I’m proud to have worked with Senator Inhofe to restore Tuition Assistance for our service members who sacrifice so much for our country day in and day out. We cannot balance our budget on the backs of service members, and this amendment to restore Tuition Assistance will help us keep the promises we’ve made to them. The brave men and women who serve in uniform have never given up on our country, and today the Senate signaled that we won’t give up on them,” Hagan said Wednesday.
Inhofe also said he is happy to see the amendment pass. “These education benefits were promised to our active-duty service members … and should be prioritized,” he said.
Inhofe said the Tuition Assistance Program is “… critical to recruiting and retention efforts, and improves the lives of our men and women seeking leadership growth within the military or those transitioning back into the civilian workforce.”
North Carolina Senator Richard Burr said, “I was glad to support this effort, and I am pleased that Congress took this step to give the president the flexibility he has always had to prioritize funding and allow our nation’s servicemen and women to continue receiving this assistance.”
The bill has also received support from many national groups including the Military Officers Association of America, MOAA; American Legion, Marine Corps League, American Military Retirees Association, AMVETS, Veterans of Foreign Wars, VFW; Non-Commissioned Officer Association, NCOA; and American Association of Community Colleges, AACC.
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.