Airmen applying for tuition assistance in fiscal 2014 will see several changes in both eligibility for and administration of the program.
Due to these changes, the application window for classes beginning on or after Oct. 1 will not open until Sept. 9 to allow for system updates.
This program is applicable to Guard and Reserve only when they are activated.
The cornerstone of the Air Force's FY14 program will be supervisor involvement. Airmen who apply for TA will be required to obtain supervisor approval for all requests. Supervisors may deny requests for Airmen in any level of upgrade training, if the Airman will be TDY or will be PCSing during the academic term, if the Airman is enrolled in PME or for any other factors the supervisor determines would impede the Airman's ability to complete the course.
Requests for TA for foreign language courses will only be approved if they are part of a degree or are on the approved language shortage list. TA will not be approved for Airmen seeking a degree at the same level as they currently hold, with a few exceptions in support of certain graduate foreign language/affairs programs, cyber law master's degrees and multiple Community College of the Air Force degrees for Airmen who hold multiple enlisted Air Force specialty codes.
"Air Force leaders worked very hard to develop a TA program that provides the best opportunities for Airmen and meets Air Force needs. Higher education continues to be a cornerstone of Airmen's development at all levels," said Kimberly Yates, the Air Force Voluntary Education chief. The Air Force instruction for voluntary education will be rewritten to reflect these changes.
Failing to meet Air Force standards will impact an Airman's eligibility. TA requests from Airmen who have unfavorable information files, failed/overdue physical fitness testing, received referral performance reports or are on a control roster will automatically be denied.
The fundamental financial benefits of TA are unchanged. Airmen who are approved to receive TA may receive up to $4,500 per fiscal year and a maximum of $250 per semester hour including tuition and allowable fees.
"The changes to TA in FY14 require Airmen and their supervisors to more actively engage in managing academic pursuits and goals," said Russell Frasz, the director of Force Development. "This will help leaders ensure Airmen take advantage of academic opportunities while balancing their goals with mission requirements."
The Air Force Virtual Education Center will undergo significant modifications to accommodate these changes, which has driven a delay in the opening of the application window for FY14 courses from Aug. 1 until Sept. 9.
"The delay will help us test the system and ensure it is user friendly and will work smoothly for Airmen," Yates said. For the first time, Airmen in the field are involved in testing the updated system and providing feedback to make it as user friendly as possible.
Airmen should contact their base education office for more details or for assistance in applying.
(Courtesy of Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs)