Recently, the military has made important changes in its Tuition Assistance (TA) program for members of the Army and Navy. These changes allow soldiers to access to benefits earlier in their careers, and remove long-standing "caps" for naval personnel.
Beginning August 5th, enlisted soldiers will be eligible for TA immediately upon completion of Advanced Individual Training (AIT). Warrant Officers become eligible after finishing the Warrant Officer Basic Course and commissioned officers become TA-eligible after completing the Basic Officers Leader Course. Previously, soldiers weren't eligible for TA until one year after completing AIT, the Warrant Officer Basic Course and the Basic Officers Leader Course. Other TA restrictions for soldiers remain in place; benefits are capped at $4500 per year, and the program will pay for up 16 semester hours of credit on an annual basis. More details can be found here.
For sailors, changes involve raising or eliminating existing benefit caps. Earlier this summer, the Navy removed the annual, 16-semester hour limit for sailors using TA, and raised the annual allowance from $4000 to $4500. According to Navy Times, as many as 39,000 additional, first-term sailors are now eligible for tuition assistance--with their commander's approval.
The new changes represent a tremendous opportunity for local service members, according to Gary Pounder, Director of Contract Credit and Military Affairs at Thomas Nelson. "Removal of the one-year waiting period means soldiers can start their education programs earlier and graduate sooner," he said. "Changes in the Navy program gives sailors the same level of benefits that other service members have long enjoyed. And removal of the 16-semester hour limit means that sailors can make those TA dollars go further, by choosing an affordable, high-quality institution like Thomas Nelson."
He offered an example. "TA benefits are typically based on a cost of $250 per credit hour, or $750 for a three semester hour course--a rate charged by many institutions serving the military market. At that level, TA benefits will pay for six classes a year. But at Thomas Nelson, our in-state military rate is $156 per credit hour. That means the tuition "bill" for a class at TNCC is only $468. So, that same $4500 annual TA benefit will cover nine classes a year at TNCC, meaning they could take three additional courses and not exhaust their TA benefits. And with our wide range of articulation agreements, credits earned at TNCC can be easily transferred to other institutions."
"Now's a great time to get started," Pounder continued. He noted that service members can also receive credit for their military training and education through Credits2Careers.org, a portal launch by the Virginia Community College System last fall. Other, added benefits include a tuition discount for out-of-state military students, creating a new, lower rate that is well within the Tuition Assistance limit. A complete listing of military tuition rates and fees can be found here.
For more information on Thomas Nelson military programs, call the military team on our Hampton campus (757-825-2938/3644), or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Military-affiliated students can also visit our Fort Eustis office, located in the base education center at 1500 Madison Avenue. Our Fort Eustis staff can be reached at (757) 878-5344