As automatic, across the board cuts loom, the Air Force suspended its military tuition assistance program for the remainder of fiscal year 2013, impacting more than 1,000 Dover Air Force Base Airmen.
Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley made the announcement on Monday, saying he’ll re-evaluate the program to determine how to proceed in 2014. DAFB has already endured deep cuts to flying hour programs, training cancellations and civilian furloughs.
“The Air Force has reached a turning point after a decade of war and substantial growth in its operations and resources,” Donley said. “This is an additional step the Air Force unfortunately had to take to operate within mandated budget limitations.”
Effective March 11, no new requests for TA will be accepted; however, airmen currently enrolled in, or approved for future courses, are not affected and are allowed to complete those courses.
In FY 2012, 1,166 Dover Air Force Base Airmen used tuition assistance, which provided approximately $2.3 million to Airmen pursuing their educational goals to take 3,265 courses.
Austere budget cuts in federal spending, totalling about $85 billion began March 1. Those cuts, in large part, affect defense spending. According to DAFB, the Pentagon urged all military services to “consider significant reductions in funding new tuition assistance applicants, effective immediately and for the duration of the current fiscal situation.” The Army and Marine Corps canceled their TA programs March 8.
“Believe me, this was a tough decision because our Air Force truly values education,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody. “We’re still looking at the impacts for Fiscal Year ’14 and will do our best to have TA reinstated, although we’ll likely need to review the eligibility requirements to ensure sustainability.”