NEWS | May 17, 2011

Education without cost

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jennifer Hudson, Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Sailors at Joint Base Charleston-Weapons Station are furthering their professional and personal education by utilizing the Navy's Tuition Assistance program offered by Navy College.

Available to all active duty Sailors as well as Reservists, the Navy TA program covers 100 percent of tuition costs up-front, paying up to $4,500 per fiscal year for each Sailor and the only requirement to service members who use the TA program is ... just pass!

"The TA program is an important benefit for Sailors pursuing education during their off-duty time," said Karen Stanbery, director of Navy College Charleston. "The TA program provides a significant opportunity and exemplifies the Navy's commitment to the professional and personal development of Sailors. The program can aid in the advancement of both officer and enlisted service members."

Tuition may not exceed $250 per semester hour or $166.67 per quarter hour and is limited to 16 semester hours or 24 quarter hours per individual. It may not be used to financially assist members for books, CD-ROMS or e-books and is not authorized for a course previously funded by TA.

"There are very few restrictions when using TA; it is very user friendly and easy to obtain," Mrs. Stanbery continued. "However, if a Sailor should fail a course, have an incomplete grade or have a voluntary withdrawal grade, that individual will be required to reimburse the Navy for that TA funding. So, it is essential for Sailors who use TA to understand how important it is for them to take the courses seriously and to pass."

Electronics Technician 1st Class Brad Tracy, Naval Support Activity command career counselor, said, "Sailors have a great opportunity to earn a degree without having to pay a dime. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this great benefit. I know too many retired Sailors who wished they had taken advantage of this program prior to getting out. Don't become that person."

ET1 Tracy is currently using TA to earn his Bachelor of Science degree in business management.

Navy College also provides Sailors with opportunities to earn college degrees by providing academic credit for Navy training, work experience and off-duty education regardless of a Sailor's location or duty station.

"Most colleges will use portions of a service member's Sailor/Marine American Council on Education Registry transcript, awarding credits for in-rating knowledge, experience and other professional courses," said ET1 Tracy. "I received 18-credit hours toward my degree before I even started, and some Sailors have earned even more based on their career school and training."

"I like to compare the use of TA to an income tax return. I'll ask a Sailor if they received their income taxes for the past year and if they say yes, which most of them do, I ask them if they gave that money back to Uncle Sam," said Mrs. Stanbery. "That is basically what a Sailor is doing by not using TA; giving up extra money that can be used toward earning a college degree. And who can really give up that kind of money?"

Service members should explore all off-duty education options by visiting WS Navy College office or call at 843-764-4493.