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An AV-8B Harrier lands on the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). Kearsarge is underway conducting sea trials. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Travis DiPerna/Released)
Under the new rules, an estimated 39,000 first-term sailors are eligible for tuition assistance only with their commanding officer’s approval. Effective October 1, the aid will cover only tuition expenses and sailors will have to pay for any other course-related fees out of pocket. Sailors taking undergraduate courses are required to receive a “C” grade or better otherwise they will be required to repay the Navy for the tuition assistance.
This is the first major tuition assistance overhaul in years. The new regulations include:
Out of pocket Fees
Previously, sailors were given tuition assistance to cover fees related to their coursework (ie lab fees, books.) Now, TA will only cover tuition costs. Fees not covered under the new TA rules “include any charge not directly related to course instruction including, but not limited to, costs associated with room, board, distance learning, equipment, supplies, books/materials, exams, insurance, parking, transportation, admissions, registration or fines,” according to the new DoD instruction.
Make the grade
Sailors now must get a C average or above in undergraduate course and a “B” average or above in graduate courses. In the past, sailors have been required to reimburse the Navy if they flunk a class. The payback rule is also required if a sailor withdraws from a course. Sailors seeking an undergrad degree must maintain a “C” average or above, 2.0 on a four-point scale and graduate students must maintain at least a “B” average, 3.0 or higher, after completing the equivalent of six semester hours. If a GPA dips below the required level, then that student is banned from receiving tuition assistance. If a sailor pays out of pocket for courses to raise his or her grade-point average, then he or she will be eligible for TA again.
Under the new rules, first-term sailors can use TA, only if they receive a waiver from their CO. Officials say that hot-running sailors who complete their initial quals in their first year can apply for a waiver and begin college earlier than their non-qual peers if they:
■ Get counseling at a Navy College Office or through the Navy’s Virtual Education Center.
■ Develop an education plan approved by a Navy education counselor.
■ Win their command’s endorsement.
It is anticipated that sailors will spend a total of $82 million on tuition assistance by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year and approximately the same amount in the next fiscal year.