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Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) joined 46 of his colleagues in a bipartisan letter to Department of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urging the department to reinstate tuition assistance for service members.
“Agencies across the federal government are having to face tough choices in light of sequestration, but these cuts that hurt our men and women in uniform just don’t make sense,” said Rep. Schiff. “This critical program has provided essential educational opportunities to active duty service members, which allows us to have one of the best trained militaries in the world – essential in today’s high-tech world – as well as giving them the tools needed after they leave the service. It’s my hope that the Pentagon will reverse this decision immediately.”
The military tuition assistance programs pay up to $250 per semester hour for active duty personnel, or as much as $4,500 per year. But because of cuts required under sequestration, the programs have been suspended by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Marines and the U.S. Coast Guard. The U.S. Navy has not suspended its program so far. As a result of the suspension, payments already approved will be made. But there are doubts about how enrolled military personnel will pay for classes in the upcoming summer and fall semesters. According to recent news reports, service members took 870,000 courses and earned 50,500 degrees, diplomas and certificates over the course of last year.
In the letter, the Members write: “The tuition assistance program must be allowed to continue unhindered. Our service members have come to rely on support from the Department and Congress for this needed program… We strongly urge you to reconsider the decision to allow the services to suspend tuition assistance and provide our service members with the education assistance they have earned.”