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Tuition assistance options available, ACES official says

5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Published: 03:16PM March 21st, 2013

Until last week, the Army Tuition Assistance program paid college tuition costs and approved fees for active duty service members up to $4,500 every fiscal year at a maximum rate of $250 per semester hour.

But Department of the Army announced March 15 that TA programs were suspended because of current fiscal challenges, and other services followed suit.

Service members assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, however, are still pursuing their educational goals. Advisers at the David L. Stone and John D. “Bud” Hawk Education centers have assured military students they can count on continued support and guidance.

Amy J. Moorash, advising branch chief for the education centers, said the JBLM Army Continuing Education System is a program that supports professional and personal development. ACES offers a variety of options to pay for college.

The staffs at the education centers work to help troops achieve professional proficiencies by providing one-on-one academic and vocational counseling, scholarship searches, testing and connections with education resources. Their mission is to promote lifelong learning, readiness and resiliency, Moorash said, through flexible and relevant education programs, services and systems in support of the total Army Family.

“We work with numerous local education organizations to provide updated information on free money you can get to pay for college,” she said.

Taking advantage of free college-level exams and standardized tests is another avenue to accumulate credits toward degrees on JBLM.

“You can stretch the money you do have on any remaining classes you need to complete your degree,” Moorash said.

M. Kathleen Connolly, Stone and Hawk education services officer, recommends several websites to Soldiers. For credentialing and accessing transcripts of military training, visit www.cool.army.mil and http://jst.doded.mil. The Military Scholarships and Financial Explorer website at www.mcsfex.net offers more than 5,500 scholarships and financial aid resources. The office of Federal Student Aid, at www.fafsa.ed.gov, provides grants, loans and work-study funds for college or career schools.

Connolly recommends using GI Bill benefits only when other funding options have been exhausted, because the benefit amounts might be lower when active-duty service members use them.

The McChord Field Education and Training Center began briefing Airmen on alternatives to TA March 13. The briefings will continue every other Wednesday at 1 p.m. Stone Education Center will follow suit, offering its first briefing for Soldiers on Tuesday at both 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

For updates on TA and questions about educational services, Soldiers can call 967-7174 and Airmen can call 982-9900. Service members can also visit the Stone Education Center located on JBLM Lewis Main, 6242 Colorado Avenue, the Hawk Education Center on JBLM Lewis North, Building 11577, 41st Division Drive and C Street or the McChord Field Education and Training Center, Building 851, Lincoln Boulevard for walk-in appointments.