03/19/2013 05:12 pm ET Updated Mar 20, 2013

Navy Fighting To Keep Tuition Assistance Program: Top Official

While the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard and Marines have all suspended their popular tuition assistance programs due to sequestration's budget cuts, the Navy is fighting to avoid joining their ranks, according to a top official.

On Monday, Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, the Chief of Naval Personnel, told more than 1,000 sailors in Virginia Beach, Va. that the Navy was still trying to figure out how to sustain its program, which provides service members with federal funds to further their education.

"Ninety percent of Sailors who use TA complete the courses they take and Navy leadership is actively working to keep TA in this tough economy," said Van Buskirk. "They are looking at the structure to allow those Sailors who are eligible to continue to use it."

Van Buskirk has said in the past that 45,000 sailors receive tuition aid annually at a cost of about $84 million.

In his remarks on Monday, Van Buskirk said the leadership has had discussions about possibly restructuring the program to reduce costs as the federal government absorbs the $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts.

Several lawmakers have tried to step in to reinstate the TA programs, while some colleges are offering assistance to affected military members.

A petition on the issue on the White House's "We the People" website recently garnered more than 100,000 signatures, meaning the Obama administration must issue a response in the next 30 days.


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What Sequestration Would Cut