Family Focus Friday: Improving Tuition Assistance Oversight

Robert L. Gordon III, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Military Community and Family Policy)

Robert L. Gordon III, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Military Community and Family Policy)

I am pleased to announce that the Department of Defense has established a new Tuition Assistance policy, effective January 1, 2012, that will require all educational institutions that accept funds from the Tuition Assistance Program to sign a new memorandum of understanding with the Defense Department.

Schools signing this memorandum will provide one single tuition rate, regardless of the military student’s branch of Service.  Schools will also be required to participate in a periodic third party review and be accredited by an agency recognized by the Department of Education.  The accreditation requirement increases the chances that credits from one school will transfer to another school the next time the service member relocates. To further protect the interests of our service members, the educational institutions must adhere to the principles established by the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges, and abide by the DoD and the Military Services’ regulatory guidance on voluntary education.

Each year, more than 300,000 service members take advantage of the voluntary education program by enrolling in college courses. To protect the interests of our service members and to help them achieve their education goals, the Department of Defense is ensuring that all the institutions that participate in the tuition assistance program have a clear set of standards and guidelines to follow.  This memorandum represents a great stride towards ensuring a policy of consistency and accountability.

In order to streamline the educational experience of our service members, the memorandum will require participating schools to recognize, accept, and award credit for appropriate military training. Additionally, students will be provided with an education plan outlining what courses are required to reach their educational goals.  Schools must also provide timely course enrollment, withdrawal, and cancellation information as well as student grades upon course completion, thereby streamlining the educational process for our service members.

Military students receiving tuition assistance will be able to use the memorandum website to see which schools have signed the new memorandum.   If you have a concern about an institution, service members can submit their comments to the DoD for review.

More information is available on the MOU website.

As our service members serve our nation through their commitment to meeting and exceeding mission requirements, we pledge to continue our commitment to helping them meet their goals. I hope that many of you will take the time to look into the new policy’s benefits and think seriously about pursuing your educational aspirations.  Until next time, be well!


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