12/19/2003 By Cpl. Jeff Zaccaro, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. —
Marine Administrative Message 461/03 was released recently containing new requirements pertinent to the Tuition Assistance program.
The MARADMIN states that Marines must create a degree plan after earning 12 credits under the Tuition Assistance program to receive further financial assistance.
According to Chuck Banks, assistant education officer at the Education Office, a degree plan lists the credits a Marine has already received and shows what credits are still needed to fulfill the degree requirements.
With the plan in effect Marines will no longer be able to take random classes that are not significant to their course of study.
"Marines will now have to make a decision and become focused on what course of study they want to pursue," said Banks.
According to Banks, although the degree plan creates a narrow path for those utilizing the Tuition Assistance program, students who are undecided on their course of study can still apply for and receive tuition assistance.
"Marines can still use tuition assistance towards a general, or liberal arts degree," he said. "If they are unsure of what they want to study, they can start by taking Math or English courses, because every degree requires those two basic subjects. They can also come down here and we will help them decide what courses will be best for them."
After creating a degree plan with their current college, Marines are not obligated to complete their degree at that particular college.
"If a Marine gets transferred, the degree plan will help us evaluate what classes (the Marine) still needs to take, so we can recommend colleges for their next duty station," Banks said.
The degree plans will also prevent Marines from taking unneeded classes, according to Banks.
"Some people have enough credits for three degrees, but cannot actually apply them to any one in particular," he said. "This will make sure that they take the right classes to progress them towards their degree."
Banks said in addition to creating a degree plan, all new Tuition Assistance users must attend a College 101 class to help them properly utilize the program.