Whidbey Island Sailors Pursue Higher Education through Tuition Assistance

Aug 1, 2007

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tucker M. Yates, Fleet Public Affairs Center Det. Northwest 

OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) 8/1/2007-- Sailors stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) seeking higher education attended a Tuition Assistance (TA) Orientation Brief on July 26.

The Orientation Brief is held twice a week at the NASWI Navy College Office and is a prerequisite for Sailors who wish to use tuition assistance. Also, if a member attends the briefing, but doesn't actively use TA for a year, he/she must attend another briefing.

The briefing covered the limitations on TA concerning maximum number of credit hours and prices per credit hour that a Sailor is allowed to use per fiscal year, including semester hours, quarter hours and clock hours.

"I already have 20 college credits through community college and high school," said Aviation Structural Mechanic Airman David Torrey. "I joined the Navy to go to college and get my associates degree. I want to know what the Navy offers through TA and how to use my GI Bill to continue my education."

TA can also be augmented by your Montgomery GI Bill using the "Top-Up" program, which uses a Sailor's GI Bill to cover the tuition more than TA's maximum price per credit. It may decrease one of your 36 monthly installments you receive when you use your GI Bill after you separate from the Navy.

The briefing also taught Sailors about researching schools and developing a plan by using Sailor/Marine American Council on Education Registry Transcript (SMART) and Service Member Online Academic Advisor (SMOLAA) to build towards a degree.

"Don't procrastinate," said Patrick Travenetti, an Education Counselor of Navy College Office who conducted the briefing. "Once you start, higher education is very addictive. I can't overemphasize that you should start talking to a counselor early."

Students were afforded a tour of the Navy College Learning Center (NCLC), where students can enroll to study for the Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery, College Level Examination Program and college placement exams.

Madilyn Gonzalez, the NCLC facilitator, says the center is a good place to prepare yourself for higher education.

"For those who don't have any college courses done already, this is the best place to start your preparation for taking your placement test," said Gonzalez.

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