What Does the Future Look Like for Military Tuition Assistance?

New military enlistees frequently cite the generous educational benefits as one of the primary benefits of joining the military. With the cost of college increasing faster than the rate of inflation, it is becoming more difficult for individuals to afford the cost of higher education without taking on a large debt burden. The military has historically been generous with its education benefits, but recent economic woes have led to spending cuts in many different military programs. What does the future look like for military tuition assistance? While no one can definitively predict the future, recent history seems to indicate that military tuition assistance is one item that could potentially be eliminated in the near future.

History of Military Tuition Assistance

Tuition assistance, or the partial financing of higher education costs for active military members, has been a staple of military benefits since the late 1940s. Benefits vary slightly by service, and details regarding the program can be found here. As the United States enjoyed a lengthy period of economic prosperity and power following World War II, this benefit served as a means of encouraging service members to pursue higher education. The military justified the expense as a means of building more capable, critical-thinking service members via education, in addition to boosting morale of individual service members. Providing such educational benefits also better equipped service members for their eventual transition to employment in the private sector.

Recent Controversy Regarding Military Tuition Assistance

While these benefits are indisputable, they do not come without a cost. Millions of tax-payer dollars are allocated to this program on an annual basis. Such government spending was publicly acceptable during times when America was economically strong, but recent government budget cuts caused military leadership to cut tuition assistance in March 2013 to spare funding for more mission-critical costs such as funding the development of new weapons systems and war-focused training. This move proved to be politically unpopular. Congress quickly forced military leaders to restore tuition assistance. Nevertheless, military leaders demonstrated that they are willing to sacrifice educational benefits to ensure the funding of more mission critical items. This action set a strong precedent for the future as ongoing nationwide economic woes will most likely lead to additional budgetary battles in the future. Military leadership has demonstrated their willingness to cut military tuition assistance, and they could resort to the same approach of cutting costs again.

Future of Military Tuition Assistance Remains Cloudy

No one can exactly predict the future, but your best bet as a new military member is to try to take advantage of tuition assistance while it is still available. Organizations supporting the military, such as Veterans United Network, are also questioning how long such benefits will remain.

After completing your initial technical and vocational training, sign up for higher education and complete the necessary paperwork to obtain military tuition assistance. These benefits are available now, but they may not remain for long.