An About Face By The Marines


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On October 25 I posted an article at about the plan by the Marines to cut tuition assistance to Marines taking college courses. One Marine who is taking courses sent an email stating that he had written his Senators and Representative about the matter. Well, on Wednesday the Marine Corps announced that they had significantly modified their plan.

The Marine Corps Times reported yesterday that an administrative message had been sent out stating that tuition reimbursement levels had been restored to their 2011 levels. The message stated:

“There has been no commensurate increase to tuition assistance funding allocated for FY-12. Therefore, all Marines are encouraged to wisely utilize tuition assistance to maximize Marine Corps financial resources. … Even with prudent utilization measures in place it is likely that FY-12 tuition assistance funds will be exhausted well before the end of FY-12.”

In true government fashion:

Marine Corps spokeswoman Maj. Shawn Haney said the return to the 2011 policy was ordered by the Defense Department, but said the Marine Corps 2012 TA budget is still expected to be only $28 million, or just over half the 2011 budget.

Under some circumstances, this might be okay–sometimes government agencies feel obligated to spend all of the money allocated them so that they will receive more funds the following year. That concept is called baseline budgeting and means that all government budgets increase at a certain amount every year. If the budget for a department stays the same rather than increasing, it is considered a cut. That is why despite Congressional claims of budget cuts, the amount of federal spending never goes down. The information not given in the article is exactly what the amount of the Marine Corps budget for tuition assistance was last year and what the amount of that budget will be this year.

It is interesting to me that as President Obama is making all sorts of promises to college students about their student loans, his administration seeks to curtail spending on tuition assistance on military personnel taking college courses.

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