Soldiers using tuition assistance money to earn certificates and degrees will now fall into one of two tiers, according to an Army directive published June 6.

There are now professional military education requirements associated with receiving TA, per the memo signed by Army Secretary Mark Esper, assuring that soldiers pursuing graduate degrees are keeping up with Army training as well.

Tier 1 soldiers are either working on their first bachelor’s degree or have earned one without TA funds and wish to pursue a master’s.

Tier 2 soldiers have used TA for their undergraduate degrees and are working toward a graduate certificate or master’s degree.

To qualify as Tier 1, a soldier must have graduated initial professional schooling ― Advanced Individual Training, Warrant Officer Basic Course or Basic Officer Leaders Course.

Tier 2 soldiers must have completed more advanced schooling: Advanced Leaders Course, Warrant Officer Advanced Course or Captains Career Course.

Beyond that, TA rules remain largely the same.

Caps are still set at 16 semester hours per fiscal year, at a max of $250 an hour, and include tuition only.

Any soldier using TA must not be under suspension of favorable personnel actions, and must have enough time left in service to complete the courses they are signing up for.

Soldiers can’t use TA to pursue a second bachelor’s degree or doctoral degree, nor can they double up and request TA while they are on orders in a fully funded degree program.

They also can’t apply funds to credits earned either by a competency test or by evaluation of past experience, including military or civilian transcripts.

The Army’s G-1 office will update AR 621-5, the regulation outlining TA, within 60 days, according to the memo.

Read the full Army directive here.

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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