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NEWS | Nov. 19, 2013

Road to CCAF: TA makes 'cents' of paying for education

By Senior Airman Teresa Aber 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Editor's Note: This story is a part of a series about the various ways U.S. Air Force Airmen can earn their Community College of the Air Force degree.

Once Airmen have determined all college credits earned through transfer credits, professional military education courses, and College Level Examination Program and Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support testing, the next step to maximizing educational benefits is utilizing military tuition assistance to cover the costs of college courses, either in a classroom environment or online.

Many Airmen want to continue their education, but face obstacles. Some want to take a break between finishing upgrade training and earning a degree. Some wait because they think they will have more time in the future.

Some may wonder when exactly the right time is. For U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Daniel Ramos, 633rd Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance analyst, his decision to pursue his military career was tied to his dedication continuing to education.

"It seems like the longer you stay in the military and the further you advance in your career, the busier you get and the less time you have to dedicate to school," said Ramos. "There is no time like the present to prepare for the future so the sooner you start, the better."

When deciding how many courses to take, Airmen should consider what classes are required for their major and how much time they can dedicate to those courses.

"Only you can know how much you can handle and how much time you can commit to a class schedule," said Ramos. "One or two classes at a time can make a huge difference. If you have a lot of down time and the classes you need require less time, take a few. If you don't have as much time or the classes require a lot of dedicated time in and out of the classroom, maybe stick with just one."

MilTA provides eligible Airmen tuition up to $250 per semester hour or $166.67 per quarter hour, allowing Airmen to pursue their educational goals. The MilTA process has recently changed and now restricts applications for MilTA to courses directly related to an Airman's CCAF degree or approved course of study.

Also, supervisors must now approve all MilTA requests. MilTA will be denied for Airmen with unfavorable personnel information files, unsatisfactory physical fitness test scores or referral enlisted performance reports or officer performance reports.

In order to apply for MilTA, Airmen must first complete annual TA training, which is available online through the Air Force Virtual Education Center. Airmen may then apply to the college or university of their choice and register for the class or classes they need. If Airmen are unsure what academic institution to attend they may consult the Langley Education Center staff for guidance.

"We are able to sit down with Airmen and assist them in making the best choice for their individual goals," said Ronald Duquette, 633rd Force Support Squadron education service specialist. "We can ensure when they choose an institution, consider the school's accreditation, policy on transfer credits and cost to the Air Force, as well as any cost to them."

Once accepted into an academic institution, Airmen must provide an education goal and degree plan to the AFVEC. Afterward, they may apply for MilTA. Information required to complete the MilTA application includes courses and course numbers, number of semester or quarter hours, cost per quarter or semester hour, exact course dates and a list of all fees associated with the classes.

"When you first get started, it seems like a lot of information," said Ramos, who has used MilTA for his education. "It is much simpler than most people think and it only takes a few minutes to complete the application."

The annual fiscal year cap for MilTA is $4500 and is based on the date the term begins. For those who reach the cap or have classes that cost more than $250 per semester hour, or $166.67 per quarter hour, they may use other resources to attend these courses, such as using the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill or the Montgomery G.I. Bill.

MilTA may seem confusing to some at first glance, but the Langley Education Center staff is available to assist Airmen in getting approved, accepted and enrolled. It only takes Airmen a few minutes to jumpstart their academic career.

For more information, contact the Langley Education center at 764-2962.