New restrictions to the Marine Corps tuition assistance program will impact current servicemembers and those who are still in training, Stars and Stripes reported. The restrictions, which will ultimately limit the number of eligible Marines, were initially scheduled to take effect Oct. 1, but were suspended for several weeks due to the government shutdown.
In addition to eligibility, the Corps will only allow first-time applicants to enroll in one college course, unless they already hold an associate's degree or have completed 60 units with a 2.5 grade-point average.
According to the news source, the changes to the Corps tuition assistance benefits are a result of several defense budget cuts, as well as an increase of servicemembers enrolling in the program.
"The reality is we have less money for [tuition assistance]," said Craig Lockwood, lead education specialist at Marine Corps Base Hawaii-Kaneohe Bay's education center, in a press statement. "There are more restrictions. If you are eligible, it's not going to be necessarily harder, but there are a lot more Marines now that are not eligible to use TA."
More than 2,200 Marine Corps members joined the education program between 2009 and 2013, during which time the tuition assistance budget was cut by $19 million, the news source reported. According to Military.com, the education benefits typically cover 100 percent of a servicemember's tuition, and is only available for Corps members who are active duty.