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DOD clarifies post-secondary education expectations

WASHINGTON -- The Defense Department has issued new policy guidelines intended to provide better protection for members of the military and veterans who seek tuition assistance for post-secondary degrees.

The department's revised voluntary education partnership policy specifies the expectations and agreements that colleges, universities and technical schools must adhere to in order to receive DOD underwriting, said Carolyn Baker, chief of voluntary education for DOD's military community family and policy office.

The guidelines, part of a new memorandum of understanding, "ensure certain protections for military members [so] that they have a quality education," she added.

Tuition assistance is a benefit available to Guard members, reservists, active duty members and veterans, allowing a degree from a Department of Education-accredited college or university.

To receive it, participating institutions must sign the memorandum of understanding, and provide the student with clear information about financial procedures, course information and graduation rates.

"[The MOU] protects service members in providing them with information so a service member can make a wise choice as to the institution [they attend]," Baker said. "We ask that all institutions provide service members with an education plan that states [course requirements] and evaluates credits earned at other schools [so] the service member can move forward and actually obtain their degree."

The new guidelines clarify oversight, enforcement, and accountability for educational institutions receiving military tuition assistance, Baker said.

Currently about 2,000 institutions participate in the tuition assistance program and Baker said she encourages more to do the same.

The overall initiative supports the executive order establishing the President's "Principles of Excellence," Baker said. Those were issued in response to reports of aggressive and deceptive targeting of service members, veterans, and their families by some educational institutions after the Post-9/11 GI Bill became law.

The guidelines pertain only to institutions accepting Title 4 funding, Baker said.
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