HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. — Air Force active duty Airmen who want to take advantage of the military assistance programs for voluntary education in the coming academic year can expect several changes that were implemented on Oct. 1.
The new Air Force Credentialing Opportunities Online, also referred to as AF COOL, will take the place of the Military Tuition Assistance certification program for enlisted members. Those seeking certifications and military tuition assistance guidance can go to their installation’s Education Center.
“We want to ensure that Total Force Airmen are aware of, and understand, the changes to the Military Tuition Assistance program,” said Susan Misener, acting deputy Installation Support. “We encourage airmen to turn to their Commanders, Chiefs, and First Sergeants for any further guidance. Service members are also welcome to go to the Air Force Virtual Education Center (AFVEC) and Education Center if more specific questions need to be addressed.”
Military members who are currently enrolled in a certification program funded through Military TA 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 Air Force specialty code, with a lifetime cap of $4,500. Senior non-commissioned 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 became fully functional Oct. 1.
There were some changes made to Military TA for FY15, to include, 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. If after six semester hours at the graduate level or 15 semester hours at the undergraduate level, students cannot maintain the requisite GPA of a B minimum for graduate and a C minimum for undergraduate, 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 Military TA to pay for fees.
Eligibility requirements for Military TA will remain the same. However, students with active suspenses such as incompletes or other pending reimbursement actions will remain 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 programs 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.
“Changes to TA policy will require Airmen and supervisors to take a more active role in managing academic endeavors while maintaining mission requirements,” Misner said. “Now that TA is centralized, requirements have become more stringent and Airmen must plan ahead and be prepared when they apply for TA.”
All new Military TA users, and those who haven’t taken any classes in the past year, will be required to have a face-to-face counseling with an education advisor prior to receiving Military TA. Also, the timeframe to submit Military TA requests has been changed to no earlier than 45 days 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.