DOD Sets Rules for Schools Receiving Tuition Assistance

WASHINGTON — All schools par­tic­i­pat­ing in Title 10 tuition assis­tance will have to have a signed mem­o­ran­dum of under­stand­ing with the Defense Depart­ment under a new pol­i­cy that will take effect Jan. 1.

Car­olyn Bak­er, chief of vol­un­tary edu­ca­tion for DOD’s mil­i­tary com­mu­ni­ty fam­i­ly and pol­i­cy office, explained to Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice what the agree­ment covers. 

“The MOU artic­u­lates the com­mit­ments and agree­ments between an edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tion and DOD pri­or to an insti­tu­tion accept­ing funds via the tuition assis­tance pro­gram,” she said, adding that some schools already have begun the process of sign­ing the memorandum. 

DOD’s tuition assis­tance pro­gram helps active-duty ser­vice mem­bers pay for col­lege cours­es. The pro­gram cov­ers under­grad­u­ate and most grad­u­ate cours­es deliv­ered through on-line dis­tance learn­ing or tra­di­tion­al class­room instruction. 

A vol­un­tary edu­ca­tion joint ser­vice review com­mit­tee devel­oped one stan­dard doc­u­ment to replace the sep­a­rate ser­vices’ tuition assis­tance agree­ments, Bak­er said. 

Under the new agree­ment, “The insti­tu­tion … must agree to one sin­gle tuition rate per Office of Post-Sec­ondary Edu­ca­tion iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber,” she said. “What this means is that insti­tu­tions can­not charge ser­vice mem­bers dif­fer­ent tuition rates to attend the same class.” 

The agree­ment requires that schools be accred­it­ed by an agency rec­og­nized by the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion, abide by DOD and mil­i­tary ser­vice reg­u­la­to­ry guid­ance on vol­un­tary edu­ca­tion, and adhere to the prin­ci­ples and cri­te­ria estab­lished by the Ser­vice­mem­bers’ Oppor­tu­ni­ty Col­leges, Bak­er said. 

Key issues addressed in those prin­ci­ples include rea­son­able trans­fer of cred­it to avoid course work dupli­ca­tion and exces­sive loss of pre­vi­ous­ly earned cred­it; required aca­d­e­m­ic res­i­den­cy lim­it­ed to no more than 25 per­cent of degree require­ments, or 30 per­cent for under­grad­u­ate degrees offered 100 per­cent online; cred­it for mil­i­tary train­ing and expe­ri­ence; and cred­it for at least one nation­al­ly rec­og­nized test­ing pro­gram, such as the Col­lege-Lev­el Exam­i­na­tion Program. 

Schools also must agree to pro­vide time­ly course enroll­ment, with­draw­al and can­cel­la­tion infor­ma­tion and grades, as well as an eval­u­at­ed edu­ca­tion plan out­lin­ing the cours­es need­ed for a degree, Bak­er said. 

The agree­ment includes adden­dums out­lin­ing how tuition assis­tance is admin­is­tered in each of the ser­vices, she said. 

The new pol­i­cy also requires all schools accept­ing tuition assis­tance dol­lars to par­tic­i­pate in a peri­od­ic third-par­ty review. DOD is com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing pro­grams and ser­vices that sup­port, sus­tain and improve qual­i­ty of life for ser­vice mem­bers, Bak­er said, and the review process will address account­abil­i­ty and qual­i­ty of edu­ca­tion they receive using tuition assistance. 

The agree­ment does not oblig­ate funds or guar­an­tee enroll­ment or access to mil­i­tary instal­la­tions, she said. Schools offer­ing cours­es on mil­i­tary posts or bases must have an addi­tion­al, sep­a­rate agree­ment with instal­la­tion com­man­ders per­mit­ting access and on-base instruction. 

The pol­i­cy states that any school with­out a signed mem­o­ran­dum after Jan. 1 will not be able to enroll stu­dents using tuition assis­tance funds, she said. Schools can review and sign the mem­o­ran­dum at http://apps.mhf.dod.mil/voled.

A list of schools that have signed the agree­ment will be post­ed to the site, so mil­i­tary stu­dents receiv­ing tuition assis­tance can see if prospec­tive schools have signed the mem­o­ran­dum, Bak­er said. 

Ser­vice mem­bers who have con­cerns about an insti­tu­tion that has signed the agree­ment can sub­mit their ques­tion or com­plaint to DOD through the site. A cen­tral­ized process will record the issue, work on a res­o­lu­tion, track the sta­tus and pro­vide a response, Bak­er said. 

She said the depart­ment has been work­ing with schools that receive the great­est share of tuition assis­tance funds, and those insti­tu­tions are aware of what the mem­o­ran­dum will require of them. 

“We might find some insti­tu­tions out there that have not been time­ly, or they don’t agree to all of the terms of the mem­o­ran­dum. So we’re going to have to work with ser­vice mem­bers enrolled in those schools,” she said. 

Bak­er said DOD is com­mit­ted to offer­ing com­pre­hen­sive, life­long learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for ser­vice mem­bers, and the new pol­i­cy will ensure a viable pro­gram is in place to assist them in real­iz­ing those opportunities. 

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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