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AF sets tighter rules for tuition assistance

Feb. 14, 2013 - 10:49AM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 14, 2013 - 10:49AM  |  
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The Air Force is getting tough on airmen who don't maintain the minimum required grade point average, keep their records up to date or complete newly required benefits training.

In fact, it could cost them their tuition assistance benefits.

Though there have been no changes to Department of Defense or Air Force Military Tuition Assistance policy, a memo issued last month by Col. Jeffrey White, chief of the Air Force Learning Division Directorate of Force Development, makes clear airmen bear a lot more responsibility in making sure they can get and keep their tuition assistance.

"These instructions were in effect before the memo was released, and the intent of the memo is to ensure the policy is properly and consistently applied," said Chief Master Sgt. James Pepin, assistant chief of Air Force voluntary education programs.

The tuition assistance program provides students with $4,500 a year or up to $250 per semester for airmen pursuing advanced academic degrees.

Here's what you need to know about tuition assistance now:

Keep your grades up. The Air Force requires at least a 2.0 grade point average in an undergraduate program and at least a 3.0 in a graduate program to keep your tuition assistance.

Missing grades will cost you. Tuition assistance can be delayed or denied if your grades are missing from the Air Force Virtual Education Center. Grades must be received within 60 days of the end of your classes. It is airmen's responsibility to make sure the grades are received and posted in their official education records, according to the memo. If you get hit with a reimbursement notice, you have 30 days to straighten out the discrepancy and provide a grade.

No waivers for failing grades. If you get a "D" or an "F" in a course, reimbursement action will be taken against you to recoup the tuition assistance that was paid.

Don't forget your training. The Air Force started requiring airmen to complete the Annual Military TA Benefits training last year. You can't circumvent this step by going to your base education center.

Separating or retiring? If you're leaving the service and receiving tuition assistance, make sure to submit your grades within 14 calendar days post school term, or risk a payroll deduction that will not be stopped once started.

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