Army Suspends Tuition Assistance Program - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Army Suspends Tuition Assistance Program

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As federal budget cuts continue to slowly work their way through the economy, the latest victims are military education benefits.

The army and the Marine Corps have suspended their tuition assistance programs.

The tuition assistance program covers 45-hundred dollars worth of education expenses per year for active duty military members.

It's not to be confused with the GI bill, which is not affected by the sequester.

The tuition assistance covers soldiers who have not yet earned their GI Bill benefits.

With the suspension, any soldier wanting to take new classes will have to pay for them out of pocket.

"This is one of the many unfortunate, consequences of sequestration," says Congressman Dave Loebsack, democrat from Iowa's second district.

The Army's tuition assistance program paid out 373 million dollars to 201 thousand soldiers two years ago. Helping them earn degrees beyond their high school diplomas. The program's suspension means any new applications will be refused, a situation Loebsack calls unacceptable.

"(It) affects people trying to do more in terms of enhancing their skills and have more educations opportunities while they are active in the military."

He says Congress needs to find a way to give the military more flexibility with its spending cuts. Allowing it to focus on budget areas that do not affect pay or benefits.

"At least it doesn't affect the post 9/11 GI bill, or the GI bill itself, that is in the Veterans Affairs department and that's not affected by sequester."

Loebsack says he's setting up a bipartisan dinner in the future to discuss money matters. Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger in Illinois says this should have never happened in the first place.

"The House acted twice to prevent sequestration. Unfortunately, the White House and the Senate refused to set aside partisan differences to work with us and avert cuts that directly impact our men and women in uniform."

Congress is working on a temporary budget now to fund the government. Loebsack says it's a step in the right direction.

"There is movement on that, no one wants to shut down the government, in the short term on March 27th and good news."

It still does not give the military any flexibility on the budget cuts imposed onto it.

"I hear the frustrations of folks everyday," says Loebsack.

The Air Force and Navy have not suspended their tuition assistance programs.

The Department of Defense has told the services to cut back on programs in light of the current federal budget situation.

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