Sunday, June 30, 2013

Will the MyCAA military spouse tuition scholarship program be cut by the big sequester cuts?

It looks like the answer is “no.” At least for the time being.


The college staff attended a webinar with MyCAA operational staff and due to the nature of the funding, there are no projections of MyCAA cuts or program suspensions.



That’s the good news for military spouses. Don’t forget though, the program did shut down a couple of years ago (2010) without much advance notice to either students or schools and so it is possible it could happen again without warning.



Other programs are not so lucky, again due to the nature of the funding and the sequester law.



For example, one of the Air Force scholarship tuition programs ran smack into the sequester chopping block.



Without much warning, participating schools were told at the time, that Acquisition Civilian Tuition Assistance was not suspended, but “on hold. “ Participating schools were told they should continue to process all approved Authority for Tuition Assistance - Education Services Program - Civilian ACQ, AF 1227 forms.



In fact, James A. Cody, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force wrote this letter, announcing the sequester cuts:



Fellow Airmen,

 As you know, our Nation and our Air Force are working through some significant fiscal challenges. The combined effects of continuing resolution and sequestration are forcing some very tough decisions. Unfortunately we'll likely be forced to furlough nearly 180,000 civilian Airmen for 16 hours per pay period for the remainder of the fiscal year starting in April. This is one of many impacts on your units and our Airmen and Families. Given this environment we've had to make the decision to suspend military Tuition Assistance (TA) for the remainder of this fiscal year.

Effective 1700 EST, 11 March, Active Duty Airmen will no longer be able to submit requests for Tuition Assistance.

Believe me, this was a tough decision because our Air Force truly values education. This is evidenced by our requirement for a Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) degree for senior rater endorsement (SRE) eligibility.

SRE means a great deal in the promotion of Master Sergeant to Senior Master Sergeant, and this will not change. We understand suspension of TA benefits makes things tougher, but there are other ways for Airmen to complete CCAF degrees. CLEP exams, the G.I. Bill, scholarships, and federal grants are some options.

We remain as committed as ever to ensuring Airmen have the opportunity and means to pursue educational goals. We're still looking at the impacts for FY14 and will do our best to have TA reinstated, although we'll likely need to review the eligibility requirements to ensure sustainability. We owe you more information on this and will provide details as soon as we can.

Thank you for your service to our Nation.



The program was reinstated a few weeks later.


What does this mean for MyCAA? It means that, although there are no current plans being announced for any cuts or holds, it doesn’t mean that still can’t happen at any time. Interruptions can be very chaotic to students. Community Business College always tries to accommodate these unforeseen circumstances. It’s one of the reasons Community Business College has been named a “Military Friendly School” over 4 years in a row.


The best answer? Tell all the military spouses who are eligible to sign up for an account as soon as possible. They don’t have to enroll in any classes immediately but they will at least get their feet in the door. Last time the MyCAA operators suspended operations, they allowed all students who were in the system to complete their application processes and finish out their coursework (just like you can see in the Air Force letter above). Enrolling in the program and getting the preliminary paperwork out of the way is a good placeholder in case somethign happens. Then, when a military spouses is ready to start, everything is all taken care of.


For more information about military spouse eligibility or the vocational training programs available to military spouses, visit the Community Business College website at http://www.communitybusinesscollege.edu/mycaa.html.

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