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WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Policy changes to the Department of Defense Tuition Assistance program and Navy Voluntary Education were announced in NAVADMIN 029/12, released Jan. 24.

The changes were needed to provide better quality control over courses taken by service members as well as to reflect the realities of fiscal pressure to reduce Department of Defense (DoD) spending.

"Navy leadership is committed to providing Sailors the opportunity to pursue their education goals," said Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk. "We know the investment we make in Sailors comes back to the Navy in numerous ways. It's an investment well made in our workforce to make them better critical thinkers, performers and ultimately, better Sailors."

DoD instruction 13222.25 released in March 2011 required a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with academic institutions and DoD by January 1 to be eligible to receive TA funding. DoD recently moved the due date to April 1. As a result, the Navy's policies for authorizing Tuition Assistance (TA) have changed and Sailors will not be able to use TA for courses at intuitions without a signed MOU by April 1. To help Sailors through this transition process, Sailors who meet all requirements for TA and submit a command-approved TA request prior to April 1 for courses beginning between April 1 and May 1 will be approved for TA regardless of their institution's DoD MOU status.

Sailors who meet all the above requirements but whose TA request is submitted after April 1 will be approved for TA only if their institution has a signed DoD MOU. Sailors can check the DoD MOU status of the academic institution they are attending by going to www.DODMOU.com and clicking on the "Participating Institutions" tab.

Sailors enrolled in Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE) courses will not be affected by the DoD MOU requirement.

The NAVADMIN also outlines the requirement for Sailors to obtain a satisfactory grade of a "D" for undergraduate-level courses and a "C" for graduate-level courses. Sailors who fail to obtain a satisfactory grade will be required to payback TA funds.

The Navy will continue to provide TA funds up through the master's degree level for both officers and enlisted personnel. However, effective with the release of the NAVADMIN, the Navy will no longer authorize TA funding for new program starts above the master's degree level. The approximately 550 officers and enlisted actively pursuing doctoral-level degrees before the release of the NAVADMIN will be able to continue until completion of their degree program.

The combined cap for tuition and fees remains at $250 per semester hour for up to 16 semester hours of course work a year.

Sailors are encouraged to talk with the Navy College Office or Virtual Education Center counselors about their options, including changing schools, and use of GI Bill benefits or scholarships. Another consideration for Sailors in pursuit of a degree is to choose academic institutions that award maximum credit for military training and ratings as evaluated by the American Council on Education (ACE). Those credits, along with the college credit exam program offered by the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES), can help Sailors maximize non-traditional credits and may get them closer to a degree with less expense.

Go to www.npc.navy.mil for more details in NAVADMIN 029/12.

For more information about the Navy College Program, visit: https://www.navycollege.navy.mil/.

For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.