Photo by Lance Cpl. Donovan Lee
A Marine reads college pamphlets at the Education Center on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, July 30.
The Marine Corps has announced changes to its eligibility requirements for using tuition assistance.
According to Marine Administrative Message 453/13, released on Sept. 11, Marines who are first-time TA applicants must have at least 24 months time in service.
"This ensures Marines are focusing on the objectives of their initial MOS [Military Occupational Specialty] training and their primary Marine Corps mission," explained Shawn Conlon, branch head, personal and professional development, Marine and Family Programs Division, Headquarters Marine Corps.
Tuition assistance was first funded by the National Defense Authorization Act of 1972.
First-time TA applicants can also only enroll in one course, unless documentation is provided that the Marine has an associate's degree or at least 60-college credits with a minimum grade point average of 2.5. First-time TA applicants must also complete the Marine Corps Institute orientation class called "Leadership" and personal financial management course, he continued.
Marines must be eligible for promotion, and enlisted Marines must have an end of active service date of at least 60 days beyond the completion of their courses to receive TA approval. Reserve component officers on active duty orders/mobilization must have an EAS of two years beyond the completion date of the requested class in order to be approved for TA.
Conlon explained that TA authorization in the Marine Corps is discretionary and subject to eligibility requirement and appropriate funding management procedures. He also said annual TA approval rates have not changed and will remain with a cap of $250 per semester hour, and are limited to $4,500 per fiscal year for active duty Marines, per the Department of Defense's uniform TA policy.
Conlon also stressed that TA is only authorized for institutions whose accrediting organizations are authorized by the Department of Education.
"Marines are encouraged to participate in all appropriate personal and professional development programs, including other education funding options such as the GI Bills, grants, scholarships and loans that can support a broader continuum of learning and educational goals," he added.
Conlon said that TA applications must be submitted and command approved prior to the requested course start date.
"TA requests can only be submitted within 30 days of the start date of the class," he explained.
Conlon said individual Marines who have questions should consult their education service officer.
"ESOs and the other academic advisors can provide individualized academic advisement," he continued. "Marines will be informed of the full breadth of tuition funding sources and how they can advance their degree plans and academic achievement with appropriate courses and institution selections."
As of Aug. 29, a report from the Navy College Management Information System showed that 24,097 enlisted Marines and 1,439 officers were enrolled in TA-funded courses for fiscal year 2013.