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Three changes slated for Navy's tuition assistance program

Three changes are slated for the U.S. Navy’s tuition assistance program in fiscal year 2015, one is effective immediately and two will kick in on Oct. 1.

“Effective immediately, commanding officers and officers-in-charge may approve waivers to the one-year requirement that sailors must be on board their first permanent duty station to be eligible for tuition assistance (TA) according to NAVADMIN 190/14 released Aug. 21,” the Navy’s brief reads.

Susan Henson, public affairs officer for the Navy’s Center for Personal and Professional Development, said that under the previous policy, sailors would have to have been at their first station for one year before being eligible for tuition assistance — this change means that officers can now waive that, allowing sailors to receive compensation for classes earlier.

Henson said this won’t necessarily encourage more sailors to take advantage of TA benefits, but allows those wanting to do so earlier. An average of 15 percent of Navy personnel makes use of the tuition assistance program.

The NAVADMIN also detailed changes to the grade and fee policy for TA for courses starting after Oct. 1, to better align with the Department of Defense’s policy.

Sailors receiving compensation for undergraduate-level courses must achieve a grade of “C” or higher, graduate-level students must earn a “B” or higher and sailors must pass “Pass/Fail” courses to avoid reimbursing the Navy for the TA funding. Reimbursement will also be required from sailors who don't make up a grade of "I" (incomplete) by the school’s deadline or six months after the completion of the class, whichever comes first.

In fiscal year 2013, approximately 89 percent of courses paid for by TA were successfully passed, with 72 percent of those courses resulting in an "A" or "B" grade, according to Ernest D'Antonio, the Center for Personal and Professional Development's Navy VOLED program director.

The third change affects payment for fees and supplies.

“Also changing Oct. 1, only tuition directly related to the course of instruction -- and not including fees -- will be paid with TA funds. Fees no longer covered by TA include equipment, supplies, books/materials, exams, admissions, registration, fines and costs associated with distance learning,” according to the Navy.

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