Military Spending: Why Cuts May Threaten Education Benefits

Last month a panel of defense experts said that Defense Secretary Leon Pennetta will have a difficult task dealing with skyrocketing military spending and building a strategy for defense budget cuts.

“The question now is what are we willing to sacrifice,” said one expert on the panel. Major budget cuts to the armed services are expected, but just how deep these cuts will be and the effect they will have on American servicemen and their families remains unseen. It’s expected that $400 billion will be cut from the defense budget by 2023.

No one knows exactly what this could mean for active military members. Rumors persist that the budget cuts could affect military tuition assistance programs.The growing demand for education coupled with rising college tuitions is putting a financial strain on the Defense budget. Carolyn Baker, the Chief of Continuing Education Programs, said that “the current program growth is unsustainable.”

These cuts could affect the generous education benefits offered by the Post 9/11 GI Bill or the ability of career service-members to share their remaining education benefits with their family. Currently the military tuition assistance program covers up to 100% of tuition and fees up to $4,500 per year. The DoD is looking into the effects of reducing these rates by 25%.

With all of these rumors circulating, it’s important for members of the military to keep their education options open and look for cost effective ways to get a degree. Heavy cuts would make taking a DSST (formerly known as the DANTES exams) exam for college credit a more viable option. The exams have a low cost and can help veterans get their degree quicker.

What do you think the Department of Defense should do to lower its budget? Should military education benefits be protected from cuts?