By Charlotte Richter/Staff Writer
Among the resources at the Fort Leavenworth Army Education Center, guidance is available to help the community understand funding options for beginning or continuing education.
Previously, soldiers could only confirm the use of tuition assistance before the beginning of a course, but because of technical difficulties, an exception to policy now allows soldiers to receive tuition assistance after the start date of a class.
Soldiers interested in enrolling in courses are eligible for tuition assistance to cover up to $250 per semester hour for up to 16 semester hours each fiscal year.
“Because there have been some problems with the ArmyIgnitED portal, the Army granted a blanket exception to policy for soldiers,” said Tom Kelly, education service officer at the Army Education Center. “If they can’t get their (tuition assistance) requested before a class starts, they still are eligible to receive tuition assistance for those classes after the fact as long as they’re otherwise eligible for tuition assistance.”
Kelly said the Army Education Center has information on available scholarships, and there are options to receive tuition assistance in conjunction with the GI Bill with initiatives such as the Top-Up Program.
“The soldiers should never pay for their classes other than any part tuition assistance wouldn’t cover. If tuition assistance is supposed to cover it, the colleges have been pretty good about waiting to receive the money a little longer,” Kelly said.
Kelly said almost all soldiers are eligible for tuition assistance based on Advanced Individual Training or officer course completion. He said new soldiers often seek to understand the college process and explore degree programs. Appointments with the Army Education Center can take 10 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on the request.
“That’s why they come and talk to an education counselor. We can go over (tuition assistance options) because every circumstance is just a little bit different,” Kelly said. “Counseling is tailored to the individual.”
Kelly said the Army Education Center also has information on how each level of education can effect future income and career opportunities.
“Education changes lives, and it’s important for every soldier, whether they’re staying in the Army or they’re getting out of the Army, to attend college with the ultimate goal of earning a degree,” Kelly said. “A college degree will help you with your promotions in the Army, and it will help you when it’s time to transition from the Army.”