The Army’s Failure to Offer Tuition Assistance Gains the Attention of Congress

Andrey_Popov /
Andrey_Popov /

When people join the military, many are looking at the benefits. While the GI Bill is one way to pay for school, there’s also tuition assistance for those who are actively serving. It’s a premium benefit – yet the Army has been failing.

The Army decided that they would roll out a new website to help people obtain tuition assistance. Only, it hasn’t been helpful at all. And now, Congress wants to know what’s been going on.

The Army’s IgnitED is a service platform that allows troops to access all of their education benefits. Yet, the failed rollout means that soldiers and even colleges are negatively impacted.

Congress wants an update. In the fiscal 2022 defense policy bill, the service has to submit a report to Congress that details a date in which the IgnitED program will be “fully functional” – and the service has less than two months to make this submission.

Soldiers weren’t about to stop getting an education just because of the failed platform. So, many have incurred out-of-pocket expenses. Additionally, many universities are still waiting on their promised payments.

It should be a simple question. Congress wants to know when the Army is going to get their act together and pay the bills.

Army spokesperson Lt. Colonel Gabe Ramirez commented on the situation in an email to Army Times saying, “the Army places a priority on voluntary education and on the personal and professional development of our Soldiers. We will provide an update to Congress in accordance with the FY22 NDAA requirement.”

That’s great. It sounds like the Army will meet their requirements. However, the question has to be asked…

If the Army places the priority on the education of soldiers that they say they do, why did Congress have to get involved to demand a timeline? Soldiers are given access to tuition assistance, yet they have been waiting to get it.

The platform was designed to make everything easier and to speed up the process to get approval on certain courses.

Most soldiers can now use the platform to request new courses. Approximately 100,000 active-duty members of the Army use federal tuition assistance benefits. Through the portal, designed by Deloitte, soldiers can use up to $4,000 toward 16 credit hours of courses. Unfortunately, the portal had a failed launch in March 2021…and soldiers have been struggling ever since.

We keep hearing reports about how the military doesn’t have the best technology. And some countries have even pointed to the U.S. to say that we are behind the times. We’re the home of Silicon Valley and Tesla and MIT. Why are we struggling with such things?

The Department of Defense spends a lot of money every year, yet we hear things like failed launches of websites and even running out of email addresses for various troops. Where is the money going because it’s certainly not going toward the best technological solutions?

The failed launch was because of issues with data migration. It left the Army unable to provide reimbursement. While Army leaders worked to find a solution, it meant that many soldiers had to pay out of pocket. It also left the Army asking schools to be patient and not kick students out for nonpayment. Unfortunately, not all schools honored that request.

At the very least, the Army should be able to honor its promises to pay specific benefits out to its troops. Unfortunately, it’s a tech issue. And why is it a tech issue? Because the Dems continue to try to find shortcuts that eventually come back to bite us in the rear.