Devaluing Our Military

I understand that the country is in financial crisis. I understand that we need to cut spending. However, we really do need to look at our priorities.

The federal student loan program is out of control. Tuition costs have risen faster than inflation. It is not unusual for a private college to charge $40,000 a year in tuition. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York says students and parents took out a record $100 billion last year, and owe more on student loans — more than $1 trillion is outstanding — than credit cards. But if you want to hear howling, suggest to Congress that the government get out of the student loan program. Don’t look for major budget cuts in the area of student loans by the government.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch. A website called reported on October 19th that the Marines are cutting back tuition assistance by 80 percent. This changes the maximum tuition assistance from $4,500 to $875 per year.

The article reports:

Although these changes to the military’s tuition assistance program were anticipated, it’s still unclear how many students will be affected and to what extent, Stephanie Styll, a spokeswoman for University of Maryland University College Asia at Yokota Air Base in mainland Japan, told Stars and Stripes newspaper. Some analysts believe other aid such as Pell Grants and GI Bill benefits can help make up the difference for many Marines.

In addition to the cuts, new eligibility rules are being adopted by the Marine Corps, and include requiring Marines receiving tuition assistance to have at least one year of service. Despite the cuts in tuition assistance, the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill remain unaffected.

Does anyone see the irony in this? The Marines are cutting tuition assistance and hoping that government Pell Grants will make up some of the difference. The money will still come from the government, just a different department. Not only will this not be a savings, it is just unfair. Our military is made up entirely of volunteers. Anyone who has volunteered in the last ten years probably knew that he (or she) would be involved in a war either in Iraq or Afghanistan. Military pay is awful. Now we are going to take away some of their benefits. Marines are doing something for their country. Their tuition assistance should not be cut unless the government programs that grant money to students are also cut by the same amount. This is just simply wrong.

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5 thoughts on “Devaluing Our Military

  1. I whole heartedly agree which is why I wrote to both of my Senator and my congressperson the day this Maradmin was published. The old plan funded 21 credit hours per year, which gave me hope of a better education for this career and my next. The new plan funds 5 credit hours, which is not even enough for a class. The number of credit hours shows that this was some rather random number crunching. How does one take 5 credit hours in a year? Most classes are 3 credit hours, some are 4, and some labs are 1, but it is odd that 87% of the Marine Corps takes 5 credit hours.

    In the site I linked some interesting rhetoric is used: “The reality is, 87 percent of the Marines that were using tuition assistance took four to five credit hours,” said Maj. Shawn Haney, public affairs officer for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. “So that’s why we went with that number, because it allows more Marines to use that money.”

    I must be the 13% that wants to get the maximum benefit out of tuition assistance. It is not easy to juggle college, family, my full-time+ responsibilities of being a Marine. It is hard enough to manage my pay to cover all of the inherent costs of providing for a family without paying out of pocket for even one class.

    I am thankful that I have worked hard up to this point and have only 5 classes left, but to complete those classes I will be taking on student loans, pell grants, and still some cash from my pay.

    I am disappointed in the Marine Corps leadership that is shooting its enlisted leadership in the foot and commenting on how wonderful it is. Education has enhanced my career: I communicate better, solve problems quicker, and lead more effectively. I know the budget needs to reduced, I was happy to see the amount of Tuition Assistance reduced by DoD policy. The Marine Corps has taken it too far.

  2. First of all, thank you for your service. Second of all, I am impressed by your ambition. My husband served in the Navy (enlisted) during the war in Vietnam. Because there was a draft, the quality of the military then was not what it is now. As the mother-in-law of a Marine, I am always impressed with his fellow Marines when I meet them. The American military is an amazing group of people–we have no business pulling the rug out from under them in terms of cutting their tuition reimbursement and other benefits. Again, thank you for your service.

  3. Ma’am,
    Thank you for the recognition. We are a different breed, in a lot of ways, not better, but definitely different. I am glad that we have made a good impression on you through the years. Last night, before going to bed, I received the email that informed me that Tuition Assistance has been restored to last years levels, with approximately half of the funding, so it is expected to run out early.

    I hindsight, I guess policy makers in the Marine Corps were just trying to make sure that everyone got a chance to take a class, which really isn’t such a negative concept.

    Still the numbers they were using were deceptive, and they weren’t forthcoming with all the information. I would like to think that my though out messages to Congress and Senate played some small part, but one will never know.

  4. For someone that is ready for my Bachelor’s degree my proofreading is atrocious in both of my postings. I didn’t see a way to edit them, so I apologize for these glaring errors.

  5. Best wishes as you work toward finishing your degree. I posted an article on the changes made, but since no numbers are available, I remain somewhat skeptical. Stay safe and thank you for what you do!

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