The Air Force plans a smaller budget for tuition assistance in 2014. (Lance Cpl. Timothy Norris/Marine Corps)
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The Air Force is poised to cut tuition assistance next year, as it prepares to enact tough new rules for fiscal 2014. But it remains to be seen exactly how steep those cuts will be.
The Air Force has programmed $102 million for tuition assistance for 2014, Capt. Erika Yepsen said in an e-mail Aug. 30. That will likely be considerably below what the service ends up spending on tuition assistance in fiscal 2013, although the Air Force cannot say for certain what its expenses will be this year.
By March 11, when the Air Force temporarily suspended its tuition assistance program, the service had already spent $105 million — more than it is planning to budget for all of 2014. When tuition assistance resumed in April, the Air Force set aside about $90 million more for tuition assistance. If the Air Force spends that entire amount, its tuition assistance expenses could be around roughly $195 million this year.
The Air Force said it does not yet know how much of those extra funds it has spent since April on tuition assistance, and how much it could spend the last month of the fiscal year. The Air Force said that a better figure to use would be the roughly $130 million it originally programmed for fiscal 2013.
That means tuition assistance in 2014 is likely to drop anywhere from 22 percent — if the $130 million number holds true — to 48 percent, if the Air Force spends all of its extra funds this year.
Check back with AirForceTimes.com on Monday for our in-depth story on the Air Force’s new rules on tuition assistance.