NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- The Navy recently announced changes to its Tuition Assistance (TA) program via NAVADMIN 114/19. This NAVADMIN may have a direct impact on Sailors serving aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73).
“There aren’t many changes to the program, but the changes that were made are significant,” said Personnel Specialist 3rd Class Vicky Dougherty, a personnel clerk aboard George Washington. “One thing to know is that although eligibility is changing, and funding is running out for the fiscal year, any Sailor who is already receiving TA will not be affected this fiscal year.”
Dougherty also said that one of these changes could impact TA eligibility requirements for junior Sailors.
“With the new NAVADMIN, Sailors must have served two years in the Navy in order to be eligible for TA,” said Dougherty. “That means that fewer junior Sailors will be able to take college classes with TA in the coming fiscal year.”
This new criteria is a change to the old program, which mandated one year of service with the option for the command to issue a waiver for the time served. One such motivation for the change in policy is an understanding of the importance the Navy places on junior Sailors to become qualified warfighters first.
“We have many very junior Sailors maxing out TA usage at a time in their Navy career when they should be focused on warfighting and warfare qualifications,” wrote Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Richard Burke in NAVADMIN 114/19. “While committed to allowing Sailors to pursue off-duty education, operational readiness is the top priority. The Navy is, first and foremost, a warfighting organization. We need qualified and proficient warfighters.”
This push to ensure every Sailor is qualified in damage control, maintenance, watch stations, and warfare devices, consistent with their paygrade, is nothing new. Since as early as 2000, the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations has emphasized readiness as one of the top priorities of individual Sailors, commands, and the Navy as a whole.
The new TA instruction also decreases the number of credit hours a Sailor can take from the previous 16 hours to the new maximum of 12 hours.
“Although it seems like cutting back on the number of credit hours someone can take is a new idea, it’s actually not,” said Yeoman 2nd Class Gabriella Kingery, the leading petty officer of George Washington’s education services office. “The new credit hour limit is actually just a rollback to a previous policy, where the number of hours a Sailor can take was capped at 12 credit hours.”
Regardless of limitations on eligibility and the number of hours a Sailor can take, Kingery said it is important for those eligible Sailors to remember the benefits of pursuing higher learning during George Washington’s refueling complex overhaul period.
“Our command isn’t going underway, isn’t going on deployments, so our Sailors have more free time,” said Kingery. “They can use this free time to pursue higher education, and by doing so increase their own prospects for their careers both in the Navy and as civilians.”
Sailors who desire to continue pursuing courses for the remainder of fiscal year 2019 are advised to contact the Navy College Virtual Education Center (NCVEC) at (877) 838-1659 or via MyNavy Portal (MNP) at https://my.navy.mil/quick-links.html for other options such as the Post 9/11 GI Bill or academic scholarships.
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.