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Tuition Programs Demonstrate Hard Choices, Official Says

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2013 – Tuition assistance is an important program, but should be weighed against the military’s imperative requirement to maintain readiness, a Defense Department spokeswoman said today.

Both houses of Congress have passed legislation, now awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature that would require the services to fund tuition assistance programs through this fiscal year. The programs offer help with college tuition for serving troops, and the Army, Navy and Air Force have all recently announced cuts to their programs.

Defense Department spokesperson Navy Cdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde said DOD leaders agree with Congress that the program is important, both to the department and to service members.

“This program enables the professional and personal development of our service members and also facilitates their transition to the civilian workforce,” she said. “However, because of the current fiscal situation, we are evaluating programs across the department.”

The department will comply with any legislation that the president signs into law, she noted. But, Hull-Ryde added, “This legislation would require the services to make difficult and very thoughtful decisions on how to fund tuition assistance throughout the remainder of [fiscal 2013] without impacting readiness.”

Each service is responsible for its own members’ tuition assistance funding, she said. While tuition assistance is not a program DOD leaders wish to see cut, she said, “The services have had to make difficult choices to preserve readiness.” 

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