MCAS YUMA, Ariz. --
Marines can now breathe a sigh of relief as they take action to reach their educational goals. Marine Corps Tuition Assistance (TA) program has been reinstated and took effect April 8 and will remain in effect until further notice.
The Marine Corps Air Station Yuma education center is accepting applications, but TA will not be approved retroactively for enrolled courses that are taken prior to April 8.
Tuition assistance slowly and silently made a comeback in late March after the announcement by Congress to restore funding for tuition assistance. An amendment to the continuing resolution in Congress, which funded the government through the end of fiscal year 2013, restored funding for TA across the services. The measure was signed into law by President Obama on March 26.
The new Marine Administrative Message 203/13 (MARADMIN) on TA was released April 12 and provides further guidance and information on voluntary education related services and the use of TA for the Marine Corps.
The application process for requesting tuition assistance remains the same which means the mandatory College 101 orientation class must be completed before submitting an application. After completing the college 101 orientation class, Marines will be eligible to apply for TA online.
Marines should plan ahead if using TA because applications should be made for each individual class and approved by the education center before the start of the course. TA pays up to $4500 per year for active duty service members, which is $250 per semester, $166.67 for every quarter, or $16.67 for every clock hour of school.
Changes to TA after its discontinuation in late March have affected how TA will be handled in the Marine Corps. Changes with TA include having Marines who use TA to ensure they use their current duty education office, according to Missy Dickerson, MCAS Yuma education specialist.
“We have to make sure money is going to be used for class and the Marines will do well in school,” said Alvina Johnson, education specialist at MCAS Yuma education center.
According to Johnson, since money is now allocated for Marines at each base, Marines who are here for the Weapons and Tactics Instructors’ Course no longer qualify and must go to their current duty station education center where they can apply for TA.
Marines who use TA for classes must complete all classes before they EAS [end of active service] or PCS [permanent change of station], explained Johnson.
The MCAS Yuma education center provides counseling to ensure Marines are prepared for using TA properly.
The education center provides individualized academic advisement to support awareness of the full span of TA funding sources and how Marines can advance their degree plans and academic achievement with an informed course and institution selection.
Education counselors provide financial aid advice for Marines and their family members, and counsel Marines on veteran’s education benefits including the Montgomery and Post 9/11 GI Bills and the use of Joint Service Transcripts.
Marines can also contact the education center to access the following free services:
1. College Level Exam Program (CLEP) tests: when passed are recognized as college credits.
2. Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) testing: exams focused on vocational certifications.
3. The United Service Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP): a partnership between the U.S. department of labor and the Marine Corps that allows Marines to use their on duty experience to earn journeyman status in a trade.
Marines who apply for TA for use at an institution that provides off-duty voluntary education to Marines are required to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in order to qualify for TA payments. An alphabetical list for participating academic institutions that have signed the Department of Defense MOU can be found at www.dodmou.com.
Those not familiar with the education office but who are interested in using some of the programs and benefits offered to reach their educational goals can take the mandatory College 101 Orientation class to get started.
The hour-long College 101 Orientation brief discusses how to get started. The brief is offered every Friday at 1 p.m. in Bldg. 598 on a walk-in basis.
The MCAS Yuma education center is also offering a career and education fair May 1, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sonoran Pueblo, building 1200.