By Ameesha Felton
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
After less than a month of suspension, the Marine Corps reinstituted their Voluntary Education Tuition Assistance program. The move came after Congress approved legislation in late March to fund the program through fiscal year 2013.
Marines can now apply for the program to receive a maximum rate of $250 per semester and $4,500 per year toward college courses. However, according to MARADMIN 203/13, retroactive assistance won’t be approved for those who enrolled in classes before April 8, 2013.
With thousands of service members using tuition assistance each year, including many who are stationed aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Melora McVicker, education services officer at the Voluntary Education Center, said the news has ignited enthusiasm among new and continuing degree seekers.
“The Marines are so excited to be back in school to continue their courses,” McVicker said. “[The reinstatement] has also encouraged Marines who didn’t use tuition assistance before to start using it, get in classes and begin working on their degrees.”
For Sgt. Alaura Gogue, a flautist for Quantico Marine Corps Band, it’s an opportunity to complete her goal of getting a bachelor’s degree.
“I think education is extremely important, so hearing that [tuition assistance] is back is a huge weight off my shoulders,” said Gogue, who is also a wife and mother of two.” “I want a degree, so that my kids have that to live up to.”
Because tuition assistance funding for FY14 and subsequent years will be contingent on congressional budgeting, McVicker said their goal is to educate Marines on all of the educational opportunities offered by the military. It’s an effort that conserves the tuition assistance program and helps Marines maximize their academic goals, she said.
The Joint Service Transcript is one tool that education counselors aboard Quantico strongly encourage Marines to take advantage of. The uniformed transcript, certified by the American Council on Education, allows service members to use their professional military training and occupational experience for college credit.
“There are already so many Marines who have college credits under their belt from the Joint Service Transcript, without any college coursework,” McVicker said. “What we say to them is ‘use those college credits you already have on the books and then find a degree program that matches your goals.’”
Along with tuition assistance, McVicker said there is a wide range of aid options available for military members. Marines can contact the Voluntary Education Center at 703-784-3340 to learn about tuition resources and receive one-on-one academic advisement.
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