By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterAugust 7, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 7, 2014) -- The Army Tuition Assistance program is designed to help Soldiers achieve their higher-education goals, but major changes are coming to the program that each Soldier needs to know about.
The changes coming to TA will go in effect Sept. 6 and pertain to reimbursement criteria, fees and TA requests, said Henry Eagle, supervisory education services specialist for Army Education Services.
One of the first major changes is the reimbursement criteria for non-successful course completion, said Eagle.
When using TA, Soldiers must maintain a grade-level of C or higher for undergraduate courses, a B or higher for graduate courses and a pass for pass/fail courses, he said. If a student is not able to maintain the required grade, then that Soldier is responsible to pay back the amount of the class.
"What the Army is doing is saying that Soldiers have to work harder if they're going to pick up the tab for that course," said Eagle. "If you slack off and get a D, then you're going to have to pay that money back."
In the instance that a Soldier does not meet the required grade, he or she will be notified that the money will be recouped within 30 days. There is flexibility in regards to how the Soldier can pay the money back, said Eagle. It can be taken out of the Soldier's pay check in one lump sum or spread out in that 30-day period.
Another change is that no fees, including supporting instructional fees, will be paid using TA, he said. TA will only cover actual cost of tuition.
"This can include lab fees, technology fees and things like that," said Eagle. "Those fees are all going to have to be covered by the Soldier."
The last major change pertaining to Soldiers is that TA requests must be approved before the start date of the class.
"Soldiers should request TA at least 10 days prior to the course start date to allow sufficient time for education personnel to approve the request," he said, "especially for those Soldiers attending schools that do no upload their course catalogue into GoArmyEd."
GoArmyEd is the Army's website that acts as a gateway for all Soldiers who are eligible to request tuition assistance can do so online.
Soldiers must create an account with GoArmyEd, which also allows Soldiers to manage their education records, including college classes, testing, on-duty classes and Army Education Counselor support, according to goarmyed.com.
Once a Soldier gets an account set up, to be eligible for TA the Soldier must choose an approved, accredited college that is in the GoArmyEd's system, and it must be for a degree plan that meets the requirements for the Soldier's future objectives.
For more information, visit www.goarmyed.com.
Eagle added that TA requests submitted less than 10 days prior to the course start date may not get approved and will not be considered for a TA exception to policy.
Other changes that took effect earlier in the year include changes to the number of semester hours a Soldier is allowed to use for TA in a fiscal year.
Soldiers are now limited to 16 semester-hours per fiscal year, and the maximum amount TA will pay is $250 per semester hour, said Eagle.
Also, there is a one-year grace period after a Soldier completes basic training and advanced individual training that Soldiers must wait before they are allowed to apply for TA.
"This was put in place by Army leadership because they don't want Soldiers focused on getting their college degree as soon as they hit the ground in their unit," said Eagle. "We want Soldiers to gain experience and be focused on what they need to do to become a Soldier in the career field that they're in."
All of the changes tie into the Soldier for Life program, said Eagle, which looks at the entire career continuum for a Soldier.
"In the first year, Soldiers can focus on their job, then after that year they can start working on college," he said. "They'll want to start working on college early because they will only be allotted those 16 semester hours each year, which allows the Soldier to stretch out their schooling and focus on their job in the Army, as well."