A bipartisan group of 52 senators have written to Secretary Leon Panetta, asking him to delay implementation of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) new requirements for institutional participation in the Military Tuition Assistance Program.
Under the new rules, institutions will be required to sign a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) prior to Jan. 1, 2012, in order to maintain their eligibility to continue participating in the program.
The senators wrote that while they support the intent to fight fraud and abuse against members of the armed services, critical improvements need to be made to the MOU before requiring institutions to sign on.
The sentiment in the Senate against the MOU in its present form is shared by a wide range of military and veterans groups, which also have requested that implementation be delayed until the MOU can be revised.
ACE and a group of higher education associations also wrote to Panetta last month requesting that DoD withdraw the MOU.
"As well-intentioned as the MOU may be, in recent months, a significant number of public and private non-profit institutions have raised concerns regarding some MOU provisions that are inconsistent and, in many cases, incompatible with their well established academic policies and administrative practices," the groups wrote. "These include MOU provisions related to the awarding of academic credit, in-school residency requirements, education plans, tuition policies and payment processing among others. These provisions are at odds with traditional assumptions about federal versus institutional control over academic affairs and thus have far reaching implications."
Although DoD responded indicating a willingness to work with the higher education community to make improvements to the MOU, nothing was said about delaying implementation. In light of the Senate and military groups’ requests and the approaching deadline, the associations sent a second letter today to reiterate their concerns.
A Softened Critique
Inside Higher Ed