U.S. Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, today cosponsored H.R. 1039 to restore funding for the military's tuition assistance program which three branches of the Armed Forces announced it would end due to budget constraints. Sponsored by Representative Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08), the legislation would reduce foreign aid to Egypt by $500 million to offset the cost of the education programs offered by the Department of Defense.
"It is inconceivable that the men and women serving our nation abroad would take a backseat to foreign aid to Egypt, particularly when there are serious questions about the stability and direction of its new government. I have serious concerns about the Defense Departments' priorities when their first instinct to absorb budget cuts takes away from our commitment for the educational needs of our military," said LoBiondo. "We should not be balancing our budgets on the backs of our troops."
Recently, the Army, the Marine Corps, and the Air Force announced that they have suspended tuition assistance. The tuition-assistance program was available for active-duty members, reservists and National Guard members attending high school completion courses, vocational courses or classes toward an associate, bachelor's, master's or doctorate degree after hours. The Military Tuition Assistance Program provided up to $4,500 per fiscal year, or $250 per semester hour or credit hour. At present time the Navy has yet to suspend its education programs. More than 280,000 active duty military and reservists currently utilize the education programs.
All servicemembers currently enrolled and taking classes are allowed to finish those classes. The announced suspension only affects new enrollees for future classes (next semester or quarter). In the interim, the Defense Department advises that servicemembers can continue to access their GI Bill benefits, if applicable, either the Montgomery GI Bill or the Post 9/11 GI Bill, or use other funding sources (i.e. grants, scholarships, state assistance etc.)
LoBiondo has previously supported efforts to reconsider foreign aid to Egypt, including in a February 2013 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.