Air Force restores tuition assistance funding as pandemic creates education demand
By WYATT OLSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 19, 2020
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The Air Force has restored the $4,500 per fiscal year funding cap for military tuition and the online preparatory course for credentialing, reversing a fall decision to cut the amount by $750.
The restored funding for tuition and the Air Force Credentialing Opportunities Online preparatory course was effective immediately, the Air Force said in a news release Thursday.
Both the original cut and current reversal were spurred by increased usage of tuition assistance during the coronavirus pandemic, which for many service members had led to a hiatus in changing duty stations and, in many locations, restriction of movement.
The funding cuts had commenced Oct. 1, the beginning of the federal government’s fiscal year 2021.
“We are excited our members are taking advantage of their time under [the pandemic] to improve themselves and pursue education,” Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services for the Air Force, said in the news release.
“The Department of the Air Force was able to reprioritize funding to encourage our service members to maximize their development through these educational benefits. The Department of the Air Force is committed to education and to the continued professional and personal growth of our Airmen and Space Professionals in support of our nation's defense.”
In announcing the tuition cut in late September, Kelly it was among the “hard decisions” made to ensure the program could continue and remain available to as many service members as possible.
For military tuition assistance, Air Force and Space Force service members are eligible for up to $4,500 per fiscal year and a maximum of $250 per semester hour or quarter-hour equivalent to cover tuition and certain fees, the Air Force said.
The lifetime cap of $4,500 for Credentialing Opportunities Online remains unchanged, the Air Force said.
“Big win!” Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne Bass said on her Facebook page Thursday. “Many of our Airmen aren't able to take classes due to workloads, the [Credentialing Opportunities Online] piece is an even bigger win.”
“I’m glad we were able to take a look at the budget again and allow our Airmen to focus on self-improvement, especially during a time where our world has become increasingly virtual during [the pandemic],” Bass said in the news release.