Senators Demand Answers on Restoration of Military Tuition Assistance

 Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., above, and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel why the department has “not yet taken action to restore tuition assistance for service members.”  Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., above, and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel why the department has “not yet taken action to restore tuition assistance for service members.” Sue Ogrocki/AP file photo

Senators on both sides of the aisle are demanding to know why the Defense Department has not restored the military’s tuition assistance program, despite a requirement in recently signed legislation.

In an April 4 letter, Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel why the department has “not yet taken action to restore tuition assistance for service members.”  

Across-the-board cuts from sequestration had originally forced Defense to cancel the military’s tuition assistance programs, along with other initiatives. But the continuing resolution to fund the government through the end of fiscal 2013 included an amendment by Inhofe and Hagan to restore the program. The amendment forced Defense to “carry out” tuition assistance programs at the levels appropriated, minus the percentage being cut from the military’s operations and maintenance account by sequestration.

“As you know, tuition assistance is an important recruitment and retention tool,” the senators wrote. “We appreciate that the department will take immediate action to support this requirement and to restore this valuable program.”

Military officials were unsure about the timing for the tuition assistance program’s restoration, Stars and Stripes reported. A Defense spokesman told Government Executive on Friday that the department was “working with the services to develop a plan to comply with any legislation.” Similarly, a representative for the Army told Government Executive that the service was still working on the plan for restoring assistance, and that no timetable had been set yet. 

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