The Secretary of the Army approved suspension of the benefit across all components of the Army effective Friday, March 8, 2013. All branches of the military suffered a similar fate as the Department of Defense focuses on surviving the current fiscal challenges, while maintaining a priority of readiness.
Soldiers already approved for tuition assistance prior to the program's suspension are allowed to complete those current course enrollments, but no new requests for FTA are permitted at this time. But while the issue has sparked hot debate across the nation, there is somewhat of a silver lining in the Guard's Tuition Incentive Program (GTIP) among other remaining benefits.
GTIP is a state funded program offering up to $5,000 per year for eligible members of the Arkansas Army National Guard who are attending accredited Arkansas state institutions of higher learning. Up to $2,500 per semester may be applied to tuition, mandatory fees, and books in the spring and fall terms. All benefits are subject to the availability of funds.
Eligible Soldiers include those with a total of less than 10 years of service, who are qualified in their military skill and have an Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score of 50 or higher on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).
In addition to GTIP, many Arkansas schools support the Arkansas National Guard with a 25 percent waiver of college tuition. While these benefits are unique to the National Guard, Arkansas Soldiers are also eligible for various other educational benefits that remain available for all members of the military. These benefits include the Montgomery GI Bill, the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and the Student Loan Repayment Program.
The Arkansas National Guard continues to value education and encourages its members to take advantage of all available educational opportunities. For more information on these opportunities, visit the Arkansas National Guard State Education Office webpage at http://www.arguard.org/Education/index.html.