The announcement that the tuition assistance program has been suspended has caused concern among many members of the military community. The vital resource helped many servicemembers earn their degrees, licenses and other credentials, but while the decision may be a setback, it doesn't mean soldiers can't pay for school. There are other resources available that can help troops cover the costs without tuition assistance.
Post-9/11 GI Bill
While tuition assistance has been suspended until October, lawmakers have not touched the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This vital benefit has helped many servicemembers return to school after separating from service, but it can also be used while they're still in the Armed Forces, Military.com reports. The biggest difference about using the GI Bill before leaving the military is that troops lose the housing allowance portion of the benefit. However, if housing isn't an issue, taking early advantage of the GI Bill can be one of the best ways to replace the tuition assistance program.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill may see some changes in the near future that could add some benefits. One proposed piece of legislation, Expanding Education Opportunities for Post-9/11 Vets' Families, would allow troops who retired due to injury to transfer their benefits to their family members.
Turn to the school
The tuition assistance program may not be able to provide servicemembers with funds, but that doesn't mean they can't find assistance from other sources. For instance, looking to see what kind of financial aid each individual school offers can pay big dividends, notes Military.com. Of course, these programs can vary considerably from school to school, and servicemembers can find help in a wide variety of ways – from work study to scholarships.
Some schools may also have programs designed specifically for soldiers. In fact, a 2012 study found that more institutions have such offerings now than in 2009.
Research tax credits
Knowing the tax breaks one is entitled to can go a long way to providing supplemental income. The money can be used for anything, but in the case of soldiers looking to head back to the classroom without the help of the tuition assistance program, education may be a good use for it. However, it's important to keep in mind that tax regulations frequently change so it's crucial for servicemembers keep abreast of the latest revisions.