President Barack Obama signed the Continuing Resolution (CR) bill on Tuesday, March 21, avoiding a government shutdown. The bill will fund the U.S. government through the end of the fiscal year in September.
Included within the bill was an amendment that requires the government to reinstate the Tuition Assistance (TA) program for active-duty military personnel. Earlier this month, TA was cut due to the sequestration of federal government spending.
Webster University reacted to the cut two weeks ago with its Military Tuition Assistance Protection Plan (MTAP). MTAP would have replaced TA and allowed active-duty members to register for the summer and fall semesters without having to worry about extra financial burdens. TA pays for about $250 per credit hour.
According to retired Brig. Gen. Mike Callan, associate vice president for military and governmental affairs at Webster University, Webster was concerned active military students would drop next semester’s classes because of the lack of TA funding. Webster offers classes at 54 different military bases. According to St. Louis Public Radio, Webster has 70 students eligible for TA.
TA was reinstated by the efforts of two senators who reached across the partisan divide. Democrat Kay Hagan and Republican James Inhofe initially partnered together to create an amendment that would reinstate TA. The amendment was not voted on in the U.S. Senate. However, the two senators added a stipulation to reinstate TA into the final version of the CR that prevented massive governmental budget cuts. The CR was passed, and in turn, TA has been reinstated.
Since the Coast Guard is governed under the Department of Homeland Security and not the U.S. Department of Defense, it was not included in the TA resolution passed by Congress. However, the Coast Guard announced it would restore its TA program on Friday, March 22. The Navy never withdrew TA from its personnel.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, TA costs the government $700 million per year.