One recent morning, Pfc. Tyler Adams visited U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz’s education center on Rhine Ordnance Barracks, hoping to sign up for classes and use his tuition assistance benefits.
Adams, 20, of Hampton, Va., was among a group of junior Soldiers from Battery D, 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, who found out that new rules govern the Army’s tuition assistance program.
As of Jan. 1, new Soldiers are eligible for TA upon successful completion of their first year of service after graduating from their training. That’s one of several changes Soldiers need to understand, education counselors said.
Adams comes from a family with a tradition of serving. The Army’s education benefits were also a motivator. But he got out of initial entry training in late June, so he’ll now wait for a few months to use tuition assistance. The Patriot missile battery crewman wants to learn more about mechanics, he said.
“It’s kind of a setback, as I was looking to get started now. I just have to wait until June,” Adams said. “As soon as I can, I will jump on the school wagon, get started and do my best.”
Soldiers posted overseas can use TA for host nation language courses, even if they have not met the one-year service requirement, said Holly Engler, a garrison education counselor.
“We’re glad this exception came down for our Soldiers serving overseas,” Engler said.
When Pvt. Marcus Blount, 22, of El Paso, Texas, first arrived in Germany, he had trouble figuring out how to buy train tickets at the station.
He’s since tried to learn some German on his own but was glad to hear that TA covers host nation language courses.
“That makes sense,” Blount said. “Everybody should learn the language.”
Service members should be aware of some other changes regarding TA. Among the new criteria, if a Soldier is pursuing a graduate degree, they must have completed 10 years of service if they used TA for any portion of their bachelor’s degree. Service members with less than 10 years in uniform actively pursuing a master’s degree can continue using TA until the end of September.
Pvt. Jamie Hrouda, 19, of Otoe, Neb., set up her account for Go ArmyEd, the Army’s portal into higher education assistance, so she is ready for TA once she’s met her year. Like Adams, Hrouda found out about the TA changes at the education center. She graduated high school in 2012 knowing she’d need a degree. She joined the Army, in part, to pursue that goal. She’s looking forward to using her TA benefits, once she meets her one year mark, she said.
“It’s important to be working toward something,” Hrouda said.
Soldiers with questions should call 493-2588 or 0631-3406-2588. For complete details, visit “Hot Topics” at the U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz website at www.rp.army.mil.