Changes in Tuition Assistance Benefit Troops | Thomas Nelson Community College

Changes in Tuition Assistance Benefit Troops

Recent changes in the armed forces Tuition Assistance (TA) program will impact the education plans of military students, including those serving on active duty, along with eligible members of the National Guard and Reserve.

Beginning 1 October, the annual limit for Air Force personnel has been reduced from $4500 a year to $3750, with payments capped at $250 per credit hour. The service says the change is in response to COVID-19; with fewer airmen deployed, more are enrolling in off-duty education programs. Reducing the annual limit will allow more airmen to utilize the program, according to an Air Force spokesman. The service says some waivers may be granted to airmen who need to take more courses to meet graduation deadlines, or qualify for Army benefits remain capped at a maximum of no more than 16 semester hours per year, with a maximum payment of $4000. Enlisted soldiers are 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.

The Navy previously reduced its TA benefit to no more than 12 semester hours a year, with a maximum benefit of $3000. Tuition Assistance for members of the Marine Corps remains at $4500 per year (maximum of $250 per credit hour), while Coast Guard personnel have a TA limit of $2250 per year.

These changes will force many military members to plan more carefully, according to Gary Pounder, Assistant Director for Veterans Recruiting, Retention and Advising at TNCC. By choosing an affordable, high-quality institution like Thomas Nelson, he said, military personnel can make their TA dollars go further.”

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, the portal maintained 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 at (757-825-2938), or e-mailing pounderg@tncc.edu.

Note: Due to COVID-19, the Fort Eustis Education Center is temporarily closed. When the center re-opens, we will resume on-base operations. Until then, contact our military team at the phone number/e-mail address listed above.