In response to a call for cuts due to federal sequestration, the Department of Defense has suspended its federal Tuition Assistance program for all military members, the Oregon National Guard, which is affected, announced Tuesday.

The Secretary of the Army approved the suspension of Tuition Assistance (TA) on March 8, and the Secretary of the Air Force has approved the suspension on March 11. 

Military members enrolled in the system prior to March 5 were covered, but no new applicants for tuition assistance are being taken or considered.

"This suspension is necessary, given the significant budget execution challenges caused by the combined effects of a possible year-long continuing resolution and sequestration," the announcement said.

"The Army and Air Force continue to value education as a force multiplier, and soldiers and airmen should take advantage of educational opportunities making them more proficient in their profession, setting them up for success in their career," the Guard statement said. 

"Furthermore, both agencies understand the impacts of this action and will re-evaluate, should the budgetary situation improve."

According to Chief Warrant Officer 4 Diane Beach, education services officer for the Oregon Military Department, 47 soldiers were approved Tuition Assistance for spring term since the program was suspended.  However, most of Oregon's soldiers were not registered for classes yet. 

There were about 350 Oregon Army National Guard soldiers who were unable to request Tuition Assistance for the spring term, said Capt. Stephen Bomar, the Oregon Military Department's public affairs officer.

Soldiers and airmen should contact their local education centers with questions and to get updates. Updated information for soldiers will be posted to www.goarmyed.com.  Airmen who have questions should go to the Air Force Virtual Education Center tab located on the Air Force Portal home page at https://www.my.af.mil.

Students can take advantage of other options, such as student loans, scholarships, and federal student assistance programs such as Pell grants and other aid, Bomar said.

"There is still the GI Bill for those who qualify, and other military-related scholarships," Bomar added.

In fiscal year 2012, 201,000 soldiers across the entire Army used Tuition Assistance, which provided $373 million to soldiers pursuing their educational goals to take 620,000 courses. With that money, 2,831 Soldiers earned associates, 4,495 earned baccalaureates, and 1946 received graduate degrees.

During that same timeframe, 104,422 airmen throughout the Air Force used Tuition Assistance, which provided $194 million to airmen pursuing their educational goals to take 277,255 courses. With that money, airmen earned 26,611 associate degrees, 2,405 baccalaureate degrees, and 3,356 graduate degrees. The Air Force, through its many programs, promotes life-long learning opportunities for airmen.