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Cuts could cost thousands of US soldiers their education benefits

Ella Sherman   

Cuts could cost thousands of US soldiers their education benefits
  • The US Army is contemplating reducing financial aid programs that encourage education.
  • Budget cuts to two major financial aid programs could affect over 100,000 soldiers.

The US Army is considering making reductions to two key financial assistance programs that promote higher education, something which has long been a selling point for military service.

Potential budget cuts to the Army's Credential Assistance and Tuition Assistance programs could impact over 100,000 soldiers, policy experts recently told Inside Higher Education.

Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told the House of Representatives last week that budget changes may be made as the program has become a "catastrophic success," explaining that the program has become widely popular but costly for the Army.

"The challenge we have is we really, frankly, didn't put any guardrails around the program to help us scope it," she said.

Altogether, these programs cost the Army roughly $278 million in 2023.

The Credential Assistance program provides soldiers with $4,000 dollars a year going toward earning various certifications, and the Tuition Assistance program allows active-duty service members to receive $250 per hour of credit.

Wormuth emphasized that she wants to keep these programs but believes the number of credits and certifications soldiers can receive should be capped to manage costs. The qualifications making troops eligible for these programs could also be tightened as another solution.

"Those kinds of guardrails are very similar to what our sister services have done in the Air Force and the Navy," she said. "We obviously want to keep them. That's our number one goal, is to keep everybody. But how we transition them is critically important."

The Army is thoroughly reviewing the program, a service spokesperson told Business Insider, explaining that "we must implement the programs in a way that not only maximizes the benefit for our Soldiers, but also puts rules in place that ensure the responsible stewardship of resources and continued program viability."

Talks of budget cuts come at a time where recruiting for the Army is notably struggling. In 2023, the Army fell about 10,000 soldiers short of its 65,000-person goal.

Will Hubbard, the vice president for veterans and military policy at Veterans Education Success, an organization advocating to protect military and veteran benefits, told Inside Higher Education that these benefits "serve a long-term purpose of being valuable both to the individual and the Service, and therefore, any cuts to this program, now or in the future, would be met with strong opposition."

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