Posted at: 03/08/2013 10:38 PM
Updated at: 03/08/2013 10:43 PM
By: Steph Crock
(ABC 6 News) -- Friday we learned the US Army is suspending its tuition assistance program. News that comes as a shock to those who rely on it. Effective now, active duty soldiers cannot apply or receive tuition assistance for school if they're in the Army.
According to the Army Times, about 200,000 soldiers are currently on tuition assistance. Some we spoke with have family on the program, others are getting help from it themselves. However, the military won't allow them to go on camera. That's why we can't name the soldier we interviewed. She’s a woman who says she has serious concerns.
"The other day it first came up for the Navy that they're cutting the Marine tuition and now the Army came and introduced it and they're waiting for the Navy and the Air Force," said DVOP for Minnesota Scott Metcalf.
"It just seems like the rug was pulled out from under us," said one soldier. That woman didn’t want to be named, but told us she had no clue this was going to happen. "There was no notification. I'm still active so our unit didn't notify us and I also work in the industry on the civilian side and we were not notified," she said.
She is currently getting tuition assistance for her Master's Degree. Though she'll be able to finish out those courses, she won’t have that money for future classes. "In my personal position being in a Master’s program, it’s a lot more expensive so that was a big help," she said.
However, she is just one of thousands who rely on this. Scott Metcalf works for Veterans Employment Services and says this could be a setback for those looking for work. "My son is a Marine, he's a recruiter and at the time right now he's taking classes under the tuition assistance. He can complete this round of classes but he can’t sign up for anything new," said Metcalf.
Army representatives told Armytimes.com there was no other option and they hope to re-evaluate this if the budget improves. Even so, soldiers we spoke with said this felt way too abrupt. "It seems like it’s always been there, and now that it’s being taken awa, that's no longer an option though it was promised to us at one point," said that same soldier.
The tuition assistance program is something soldiers had to apply and qualify for, not everyone was automatically given this. We also want to point out that this has no effect on VA benefits like the GI Bill.