A debt unpaid

March 22, 2013 

For their service, for their sacrifice, the men and women who wear America’s uniforms deserve all the rewards their country can afford. And one that many have used to better their lives and help their families has been the Tuition Assistance Program, which provides help in getting higher education for those who have served. Sequestration and other budget problems nearly brought the program to an end, but North Carolina’s Sen. Kay Hagan led a successful fight to preserve it.

Hagan, representing a state with a heavy military presence, did good work here.

The Tuition Assistance Program is different from the GI Bill, the historic entitlement due to all members of the service who meet minimum service requirements. The GI Bill can even be transferred to a family member. And it’s not at risk.

But tuition assistance is a benefit for which people have to apply and then meet minimum requirements. The rules on eligibility, and the amount of the benefit, can vary depending upon allocations.

Still, it’s been incredibly valuable to hundreds of thousands of people since it began in 2002. In fiscal 2012 alone, over 200,000 soldiers used the Army’s program.

The pay for our military personnel isn’t terrific. The living conditions even on U.S. bases are hardly luxurious. And for those who serve in harm’s way, the service to country can be one of life and death. In that context, tuition assistance isn’t really a benefit. It’s earned.

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