Sequester Watch: Air Force and Coast Guard Suspend Tuition Assistance Programs

The Air Force and the Coast Guard have become the latest branches of the United States military to suspend their Tuition Assistance Programs, following significant, across-the-board cuts in defense spending that took effect this month in a process known as sequestration.

New enrollments in the Air Force’s Tuition Assistance Program were suspended as of 5 p.m. on Monday, officials announced on Tuesday morning. Although the Coast Guard has yet to publicly announce its program’s suspension, news of the decision to do so circulated internally over the weekend, according to a report posted on on Monday.

Last week the Marine Corps and the Army both announced they would discontinue their programs, which provide active-duty service members with up to $4,500 a year to participate in high-school completion courses and certificate programs, or to work toward a college degree.

Officials of the Navy have yet to announce whether its program will be suspended as well.

Supporters of the programs created a petition last Friday on the “We the People” page of the White House’s Web site, urging the Obama administration to reinstate the programs and block any further suspensions.

In spite of the country’s current economic situation and the “polarizing politics involved,” the petition states, benefits such as the Tuition Assistance Programs should not be compromised.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the petition was approaching 50,000 signatures. A petition on the “We the People” page must receive 100,000 signatures within 30 days to receive a response from the White House.

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