Congress reinstates tuition assistance for members of the military

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Congress voted to reinstate tuition assistance for members of the military today as part of the continuing resolution to keep the government funded through September.

The Senate included tuition assistance as part of the funding bill on Wednesday, and the House approved the measure today, Stars and Stripes reports.

Over the last several weeks, the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marine Corps had suspended their tuition assistance programs for the rest of the fiscal year, blaming sequestration for the cut. Only the Navy kept its program funded.

The program provides $250 per credit hour and up to $4,500 per year for service members working toward a college degree.

The bill reinstating the program was introduced by Sens. Jim Inhofe and  Kay Hagan on Tuesday. The legislation prohibits the program’s funds from being reduced more than the overall percentage by which the Services’ Operations and Maintenance accounts are cut.

“This is an earned benefit that not only assists in recruiting and retention efforts for our all-volunteer force, but it also improves the lives of our men and women as they seek leadership opportunities within the military,” Inhofe said on Tuesday. “As our nation’s defense faces unprecedented budget cuts, it’s critical we reestablish the right priorities to support our military and this bill starts us on that path.”

Hagan said Tuesday the program is an important benefit for many who join the military.

“Many of our servicemembers join the forces with the goal of advancing their educations, and we must keep our promises to them,” she said.

President Obama is expected to sign the continuing resolution in the next few days.

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