U.S. Army officials announced Friday they have suspended new enrollments for tuition assistance programs, which help more than 200,000 soldiers continue their educations.
The decision comes as the military deals with the Defense Department's requirement to cut $46 billion from its budget by October, under the sequestration order that President Obama signed into effect on March 1.
According to a statement from the Army, "soldiers will no longer be permitted to submit new requests for Tuition Assistance through the GoArmyEd portal. Soldiers currently enrolled and participating in courses approved for tuition assistance are not affected and will be allowed to complete current course(s) enrollment." The suspension went into effect Friday.
Army officials said 201,000 soldiers are enrolled in continuing education programs, costing about $373 million each year. According to the Army, current enrollees who wish to take more classes at the end of a semester will be considered new enrollees, and will not be eligible for tuition assistance.
Soldiers, whose enrollments are suspended, "can continue to access their GI Bill benefits, if applicable (either the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) or the Post 9/11 GI Bill), or use another funding source (i.e. grants, scholarships, or Army National Guard Soldiers using state Tuition Assistance)," according to the Army.
The Marine Corps have also decided to stop all new enrollments in its tuition assistance program, which pays $250 per credit hour, up to $4,500 for a fiscal year.
Air Force and Navy officials said their tuition programs are also under review, but a decision has not been made.