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Congress votes to reinstate military tuition assistance


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Earlier this month, military officials were forced to suspend funding to military tuition assistance programs in compliance with the mandatory federal spending cuts known as sequestration. The decision would have affected service personnel who rely on these initiatives to prepare them for careers after the military. According to The Associated Press, members of Congress voted earlier this week to reinstate the financial aid programs offered by the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps.

Searching high and low
The news source reports that Congress passed a bill authored by Republican Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Democratic Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina that mandates the Pentagon to find alternative means of funding for military tuition assistance programs. Prior to the bill's amendment, various branches of the military were forced to eliminate tuition assistance initiatives that provide educational funding worth up to $4,500 per year to eligible active-duty personnel. The news source reports that servicemen and women took approximately 870,000 courses last year alone, highlighting the importance of such initiatives.

While tuition assistance programs have been restored to members of the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps, the future of the U.S. Coast Guard's financial aid programs remains uncertain. The bill authored by Inhofe and Hagan only applies to the defense budget, while the Coast Guard falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which operates under a separate budget.

Supporting the nation's soldiers
Despite the lack of a decision regarding the future of the Coast Guard's military tuition assistance program, the senators responsible for the bill said the move was a step in the right direction.

"I'm pleased the House has passed my bipartisan amendment with Senator Inhofe to restore tuition assistance as part of the continuing resolution," Hagan told The Huffington Post. "I look forward to the president signing this legislation into law so we can keep our commitment to our service members. The brave men and women who serve in uniform have never given up on our country, and now we have signaled that we won't give up on them."

In additional to the benefits provided to current service members, Senators Inhofe and Hagen argued that the availability of tuition assistance programs is vital for recruitment and retention in the all-volunteer armed forces.

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