The Department of Defense’s (DoD) Tuition Assistance (TA) program helps active duty military members pursue postsecondary education, but a balance is needed between protecting service members and taxpayers and ensuring that program requirements don’t keep institutions from participating, ACE Senior Vice President Terry W. Hartle told a Senate subcommittee today.
DoD should continue its outreach to colleges and universities about the TA program, including those that serve a relatively small number of beneficiaries, Hartle said during his testimony at a hearing on voluntary military education programs held by the Senate Committee on Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.
ACE supports efforts to ensure appropriate oversight and protections for TA funds and the service members who use the benefit, Hartle stressed. But he added that TA is not a simple program to administer on campus, and it is becoming more complex.
“We need to find oversight mechanisms that identify the bad actors, while being mindful in doing so of the burdens on institutions that serve relatively few TA recipients,” Hartle said.
TA programs operated by the different branches of the military provide up to $4,500 per fiscal year for active-duty troops who are attending high school completion courses and certificate programs, or are working toward college degrees.
This March, the Army, Air Force and Marines announced that, due to the sequester, they would suspend their TA programs. But the programs were reinstated in April after Congress voted to order DoD to locate the necessary funding.
Hartle noted that the TA program provided benefits in FY 2012 of $568.2 million to more than 286,000 service members at more than 3,100 institutions—nearly 1,900 of which are public or non-profit institutions.
Also testifying at today’s hearing were James Selbe, senior vice president for partnerships, marketing, and enrollment management, University of Maryland University College; Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities; Frederick Vollrath, assistant secretary of defense for readiness and force management; and Christopher Neiweem, Iraqi Freedom veteran.