DOD Extends Deadline for Schools to Sign Military Tuition Assistance

On December 15, 2011, the Department of Defense (DOD) granted a 90-day deadline extension for colleges and universities to sign a new agreement for participation in the Department’s tuition assistance program.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) sets forth the commitments and agreements between the school and the DOD prior to the school being able to accept funds through the tuition assistance program.  Currently, over 1,900 schools have signed the MOU.

The tuition assistance program, which is separate from the Post-9/11 GI Bill, helps active-duty service members pay for undergraduate and graduate college courses, including both classroom and online instruction.  Deputy Assistant Secretary for Military, Community, and Family Policy Robert L. Gordon III, reported that the program provided $545 million in assistance to over 320,000 service members in fiscal year 2011.

Key criteria outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding include the following:

  • Schools must agree to one single tuition rate, ensuring that service members cannot be charged different tuition rates to attend the same class
  • Schools must be accredited by an agency recognized by the Department of Education (DOE) and abide by DOD and military service regulatory guidance on voluntary education
  • Schools must adhere to the principles and criteria established by the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges(SOC), including:
    • Reasonable transfer of credit
    • Required academic residency limited to no more than 25% of degree requirements or 30% for undergraduate degrees offered 100% online
    • Credit for military training and experience, and
    • Credit for at least one nationally recognized testing program, such as the College-Level Examination Program
    • Schools must agree to provide timely course enrollment, withdrawal, and cancellation information and grades, in addition to an evaluated education plan outlining the courses required for a degree
    • Schools must participate in a periodic third-party review to help ensure accountability and quality of education

By postponing the initial deadline of January 1, 2012 to March 30, 2012, the DOD hopes to provide adequate time for additional schools to participate, helping to increase the educational opportunities available to military students.  The extension also allows current military students to spend tuition assistance funds at schools that have not signed the new agreement through March 30.

Click here for further information on DOD Voluntary Education Programs.

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