Up to 1,000 sailors who applied for tuition assistance during the federal government shutdown can apply to have the money they spent on classes reimbursed by the Navy — a reversal of the initial October denials and of the Navy’s interpretation of Defense Department TA policy.
“We are making an exception to retroactively pay tuition assistance for classes that started between 1 and 16 October — requests previously denied solely because they were received during the government shutdown,” said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Servello, spokesman for the chief of naval personnel, in a statement.
“We are in the process of sending letters to affected sailors explaining the next steps in the process and how to move their claim forward.”
Of the 1,200 sailors who applied for benefits during the shutdown, between 900 and 1,000 went through with, and put money toward, their education plans, making them eligible for reimbursement. The Navy initially sent letters to all 1,200 explaining the requests could not be reimbursed because DoD rules state that application and approval of TA funds must happen before the courses are slated to begin
But after DoD told Navy Times that making retroactive payments was up to the individual services, the Navy reinvestigated the situation and found no legal reason sailors could not be reimbursed.
“It is important that sailors understand that this exception is because of the extraordinary circumstances created by the shutdown — retroactive payment will not be the new norm,” Servello said.
Sailors who either paid or obligated themselves to pay must file a claim with the Navy by Jan. 31 via email to TA.email@example.com. The claim must include the sailor’s name, contact email and phone number, along with a copy of the school’s receipt that includes the school name, course names and numbers, and class dates.