Updates to voluntary education programs affect Yokota Airmen
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- The Air Force implemented changes to their military assistance programs for voluntary education. The changes went into effect Oct. 1 and affect every Active duty Airmen, including a majority of Team Yokota.
Air Force Credentialing Opportunities Online will take the place of the MilTA certification program for enlisted, Total Force Airmen seeking certifications, and military tuition assistance guidance will be updated.
"Education is what keeps our Airmen and our Air Force at the leading edge of change," said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody. "This is a valuable benefit that Airmen have a responsibility to manage, whether it's keeping their GPA up or meeting all the deadlines for applications."
Airmen who are currently enrolled in a certification program funded through military tuition assistance will have one year to complete their program. Enlisted Airmen submitting new applications through AF COOL will be able to apply for certifications based on their duty Air Force specialty code, with a lifetime cap of $4,500. Senior noncommissioned officers are also eligible for leadership and management credentialing programs within the lifetime cap. Funding for the program is currently scheduled to begin in January 2015. However, the website will be fully functional Oct. 1.
"We created AF COOL in part to meet NDAA 14 requirements but also to separate credentialing from other military tuition assistance and ensure we had a cohesive, user-friendly system for our enlisted Airmen who are interested in obtaining duty-related certifications," said Mr. Russell Frasz, the Air Force Director of Force Development.
Military TA will also see some changes in FY15, said Frasz. In line with the updated Department of Defense Instruction on voluntary education released in May, Airmen who receive grades of a C or below in graduate courses and D or below in undergraduate courses will be required to reimburse TA funds.
This is effective with all term start dates on or after Oct. 1, 2014. If, after six semester hours at the graduate level or 15 semester hours at the undergraduate level, students cannot maintain the requisite GPA, they will no longer be eligible to receive military TA until they have raised their GPA. In addition, the DoD Instruction no longer allows for MilTA to pay for fees.
Eligibility requirements for military TA will remain the same, except for students with active suspenses such as incompletes or other pending reimbursement actions, who will be ineligible until those suspenses are closed. Airmen who are approved to receive TA may still receive up to $4,500 per fiscal year and a maximum of $250 per semester hour, but will now have a cap of up to 124 semester hours allowed for undergraduate program and 42 semester hours for graduate level courses (some restrictions apply for the undergraduate and graduate caps). This change affects all current and future MilTA users.
The window for military TA requests will be limited to no earlier than 45 and no later than seven days prior to the start of the academic term. Additionally, Airmen must obtain approval for their educational goals from their academic institution.
All new TA users and those who haven't taken any classes in the past year are required to have face-to-face counseling with an education advisor prior to receiving TA, but all students are encouraged to meet with education advisors and review the updated Air Force Instruction to ensure they are familiar with all the changes to the program, said Frasz.
"Be aware of the changes," said Rodney Lake, 374th Force Support Squadron education office chief. He recommends Airmen frequently review their annual MILTA briefing in the Air Force Virtual Education Center and review AFI 36-2649 for more information about the programs. Military members should also be familiar with AFVEC and ensure their information in AFVEC is accurate and up-to-date.
For more information regarding the educational changes, contact the Yokota Education Office at 225-7337 or send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Information courtesy of the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Office)