Changes to ArmyIgnitED education portal mean new requirements for Soldiers seeking financial assistance

By Noriko Kudo, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsAugust 9, 2023

Changes to ArmyIgnitED education portal mean new requirements for Soldiers seeking financial assistance
Patrick “Pat” Smoak, right, an education services specialist, discusses educational opportunities with Spc. Claudel Saint Clair, assigned to the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion Aug. 2 at the Camp Zama Education Center. (Photo Credit: Noriko Kudo) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP ZAMA, Japan – Recent changes to ArmyIgnitED, the Army’s online portal for requesting financial assistance for higher education, mean new requirements for both new and current users, an education services specialist here said.

Effective Aug. 1, all Soldiers new to ArmyIgnitED who are seeking tuition assistance or credentialing assistance must attend an introductory briefing. Soldiers assigned to Camp Zama can schedule this briefing with Patrick “Mr. Pat” Smoak at the Education Center.

Current ArmyIgnitED users on Camp Zama must now submit an Education Degree Plan, or EDP and upload it to their account when creating their education goal through the portal, Smoak said. An automatic hold on their account will be activated until they do so, he said.

Soldiers can continue to submit a credentialing assistance request, or CAR, through the portal until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Aug 11. Soldiers must submit and ensure approval of any tuition assistance request, or TAR, for fiscal 2023 prior to 8 p.m. EDT on Sept. 7—no exceptions, Smoak said.

Soldiers may continue to create a TAR for courses they plan to attend in fiscal 2024 from Oct. 1, and must submit them no more than 60 days after or seven days before the start date of the class, he continued.

Smoak said Soldiers should not hesitate to call him at 263-5068 or email him at if they have any questions or concerns.

“Anyone that asks questions of us, education-wise, as far as their goals, that’s what we do,” Smoak said. “We take care of them, and we go out of our way to do research and ensure that they’re maximizing any funding that they can get from scholarships, loan grants, tuition assistance and credentialing assistance.”

The counselors at the Education Center are also available to advise Soldiers on their education goals. In fact, it was Smoak’s interaction with a military education counselor when he was a young sailor that influenced him to pursue his eventual career.

“She kept it real with me,” Smoak said of the counselor. “She made sense and she put things into perspective. She spoke directly to me, and that ... molded me into being the counselor that I am today.”

The Education Center is here for the benefit of the community and Smoak said he is there to help Soldiers utilize and maximize their education benefits.

“It’s [all about] giving back and prioritizing the Soldier, as well as their families and the community,” he said. “Their success is my goal.”