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Coast Guard expands tuition assistance to master's degrees

Feb. 25, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
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The Coast Guard has expanded tuition assistance for Coasties taking graduate courses toward a master's degree. (DC1 Karlton Rebenstorf / Coast Guard)
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Coasties looking to complete a master’s degree can now get help from the service’s tuition assistance program, according to a Feb. 20 service-wide message.

The Coast Guard will now fund 75 percent of tuition costs for active-duty members seeking their first master’s, up to $187.50 per credit hour, with an overall cap of $2,250.

“This expansion of benefits is for graduate courses taken towards a master’s degree and not for doctoral degrees, similar terminal degrees, or certificates,” the message said.

The cost-sharing program was instated for fiscal year 2014, the first time the service has used it since 2002. The Coast Guard had suspended tuition assistance altogether in March 2013, then opened it up a month later, but only for E-6s and below seeking undergraduate degrees.

Extra funding in the FY13 budget allowed the service to reopen TA for all in August. However, a smaller 2014 budget made it necessary to reinstate cost-sharing, a Force Readiness Command spokesman told Navy Times in November, in order to keep the funds available to all active-duty Coast Guardsmen.

The service spent more than $12 million on TA in fiscal year 2013, according to FRC spokesman Chief Warrant Officer 2 Donnie Brzuska. The FY14 budget included only $7.8 million, he added, because of a cut in the service’s training and education budget.

To assure full funding for “A” and “C” schools, he said, cuts had to come from TA. Rather than limiting funding to certain ranks, the service decided cost-sharing would allow at least some benefits to get to the widest-possible pool of applicants.

Full details of the expansion are available in ALCOAST 065/14. For information on funding the remaining 25 percent of tuition costs, including grants, scholarships and the GI Bill, visit the Coast Guard Institute’s website at http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg1/cgi/.

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