Guard gets access to GoArmyEd
September 16, 2011
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, September 15, 2011) -- Beginning Oct. 1, the Army National Guard will join the active Army and Army Reserve in using GoArmyEd, funded by the Department of the Army, as a central entry point for their educational needs.
Implemented April 1, 2006 for all active duty Soldiers and Jan. 1, 2010 for U.S. Army Reserve, GoArmyEd now allows all Soldiers, Army education counselors, and member schools to seamlessly conduct online tasks, such as tuition assistance, or TA, and management of educational activities.
"Over the years, GoArmyEd has changed and morphed into the entry point for all education services," said Ileen Rogers, director of Army Continuing Education Division.
"If a Soldier wants to do testing or if they need to complete high school, they can begin that process through GoArmyEd. It becomes the entry point for continuing education," Rogers said.
Users can use the program to handle applications for admission to participating schools, use centralized applications for TA, receive online course registration, check the recording of grades, enrollments and graduations, track degree requirements, receive automated invoicing from schools, and benefit from customer relationship management and help desk support.
GoArmyEd allows Soldiers to apply up to 60 days prior to the start of the class, said Maj. Jerome Loring, National Guard Bureau education services officer.
"We had some National Guard Soldiers who began applying on August 1st for classes that began on October 1st. Since that date, they have been able to apply, within a 60-day window, for classes that begin after October 1st through GoArmyEd," he said.
GoArmyEd gives Soldiers online access to register for classes, access to education counselors, school, or the GoArmyEd Helpdesk, and many self-service features that put Soldiers in the driver's seat as they plan for and pursue their education goals.
Soldiers are able to identify courses that advance them toward their degree and view their TA balance for the year. They can also review their individual degree plan, student record, course history, grades, and other information necessary to reach their goals.
GoArmyEd also helps to reduce administrative workload at the education centers and Reserve education offices world-wide and it allows Soldiers to receive TA from more than 2,500 regionally or nationally accredited schools.
EDUCATION IN THE PAST
In the past, education for National Guard Soldiers was managed by each state.
"All three components were doing their own thing, and it wasn't efficient," Loring said, noting the Guard had iMarc, the Army Reserve had WEBS, and the active component had CTAM.
"None of the three systems really did completely what they needed to do to provide the level of accountability and the level of efficiency that GoArmyEd will now provide to the whole Army."
With advancing technology, rising popularity of online classes, and frequent deployments, GoArmyEd makes it possible for Soldiers to enroll in classes and continue their college education anytime and anywhere.
But it took time to make sure the portal was in a position to accommodate the total Army.
"Once the active component was done, the Army Reserve was next. This ensured we got it right or we got it better when we brought in the Guard," Loring said.
Funding was an issue, too, Rogers said.
"It costs money to grow and during the POM process, or program objective memorandum that's created every two years for the following six-year budget, it took time to make sure we had the sufficient dollars to make the changes to GoArmyEd to accommodate the total force," Rogers said.
Adding the Guard to GoArmyEd, she said, completes the Army's vision of an enterprise education system that serves every Soldier, regardless of his or her service component.
"By centralizing tuition assistance operations, we take a significant step toward providing the very best education service for our men and women in uniform," Rogers said.
"One of GoArmyEd's primary purposes is to be the source management system for tuition assistance," Rogers said.
"I've been involved with Army education for the National Guard for more than a decade now. You don't have to go back very far, in fact, just back to the late 90s -- 1997 -- when the National Guard first started using tuition assistance. The program at its inception was very small, just a few million dollars, and within the last decade or so it has blossomed to more than $100 million," Loring said.
The Tuition Assistance program provides financial assistance for voluntary off-duty education programs in support of a Soldier's professional and personal self-development goals.
"It is available for courses offered in the classroom or distance learning. The courses must be offered by schools registered in GoArmyEd and accredited by agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education," Rogers said.
In addition to degree programs, TA is available to Soldiers to complete a high school diploma and to complete certificate programs. However, TA will not be approved to complete credentials at the same or a lower educational level, and it is not authorized for programs beyond a master's degree.
"We're able to track enrollment on a daily basis, run it against our balances in our accounts so that we know daily where we stand in terms of expenditure of dollars for tuition assistance," Rogers said.
WHOLE ARMY BROUGHT TOGETHER
GoArmyEd is a strategic arm of the Army today, Rogers said.
"One of the ways the Army has put their money where their mouth is, so to speak, is by giving National Guard Soldiers the same benefits, education-wise, as their active-duty brothers and sisters have, so this is the way for the Army to say, yes, we recognize and value National Guard Soldiers and one of the ways we're going to show that is by giving them education benefits.
"I think the Army recognizes that this is not your father's National Guard," Loring said.
Loring, who has been in the Guard for 28 years, said he has never been a part of something as unique as this.
"It's been a real privilege to be a part of something across the entire Army, a team of people, not just in the Army and the Army Reserve, but the contract staff involved in it and the IMCOM (Installation Management Command) staff who have taken part in it, our staff in the states. It's just been a real pleasure to be part of such a collaborative effort and a successful one," he said.
Every state for the National Guard has an education office, and an education services officer.
"When GoArmyEd becomes effective for the National Guard on October 1st, the main difference for our education staff is that they won't be managing the funding of tuition assistance at the local level. It'll all be done centrally through GoArmyEd. But the education services offices in the state will still be there to administer education benefits, to counsel Soldiers.
"The uniqueness of the Guard is that (our) education officers manage the GI Bill, manage incentives, and manage testing and counseling. We do a lot of things under the auspices of the education office for the Guard that will not change, so there'll still be an education services office in each of the 54 states and territories.
"GoArmyEd will free them up to do more of the core education services, where in the past they've been required to do a lot of administrative things with tuition assistance that have taken them from their real mission of doing educational services," Loring said.
Also, National Guard Soldiers will not have to switch between two different systems -- the Guard system and GoArmyEd -- when called to active duty.
"Now they will be able to use just one system whether in traditional training status or mobilized and deployed. GoArmyEd, as a one-stop portal, will manage their federal tuition and other educational activities," Rogers said.
"This has been a collaborative effort between the Army National Guard, the U.S. Army Reserve and the active Army. Everyone has committed themselves to making this work, making it transparent for our Soldiers with no disruption in their education plan, and I think leadership has been very supportive as we worked through all the technical concerns with the goal in mind of making this transition as seamless as possible for our Soldiers," Rogers said.
"So that's really the bottom line for all of this. It makes sense for the Army and for our Soldiers," Loring said.
For more information go to GoArmyEd at https://www.goarmyed.com/ or call the Human Resources Command, anytime, at 888-ARMYHRC (276-9472).