Words By Mike Weisbecker.
DOD recently released changes to tuition assistance (TA). Let the caterwauling begin.
Some of the changes make sense to me. Others don’t. Having used tuition assistance to get my associates degree as well as the bulk of my bachelors completed I speak with experience.
If your final grade for a class is less than a C for bachelors level courses, you’ll be paying back the cost of the class to Uncle Sugar. Less than a B for masters level courses puts you in the same category. I don’t have an issue with this. Someone else is footing the bill for your class. I see no problem with them putting a caveat like this on users of the program. Obviously if you fail or get an incomplete and don’t take measures to make the incomplete complete, you are on the hook to pay the cost back.
The one part that bothers me is laboratory fees will no longer be reimbursed. They place anything that is not related to course instruction as something you are paying for out of hide (as in your hide).
Books have never been covered. I never had a big issue with buying my own books. Many curse words were uttered when buying them for a class though. One class in human factors the book was maybe 100 pages, about 6 x9 in dimensions and cost close to $100. We opened this book twice and no assignments were given from it nor test questions taken from it.
The whining I would hear from my fellow students about having to pay for books I answered with “well would you rather they pay for the books and you pay for $750 for the class?” That usually stopped the whining from the peanut gallery.
I look at lab fees differently. This is part of instructing to me. They want you to perform tasks hands on because it is very important to the course. Why else would they spend the time and materials required to maintain a physical lab or materials to perform the lab? It’s one thing to read about theory, it’s a whole other thing to see it in action. A radar theory course I took a few years ago, my employer had a classroom radar system that you could actually see radar theory being applied and see how changes in the aspect of the target affected the returned signal. Much better than smacking the I Believe button after death by powerpoint in a classroom.
Even with these changes it’s still a good deal. Back in the pre-internet cave dwelling times when I enlisted TA was 75% reimbursed so you had to pay the other 25%. That is way better than paying the full cost out of pocket or getting into debt up to your eyeballs. Plus I think it’s a good incentive to not tank the class.
Soapbox time. Take advantage of any off duty education your schedule allows while you are active duty. It’s a benefit that may go away if the belt keeps tightening as unfortunate as that may be.