The Army Reserve has seemingly fixed its scholarship program after the service component ran out of money to cover education benefits earlier this week and did not message the breakdown to its troops.
"We have resolved the temporary outage of tuition assistance funding which impacted some of our soldiers," a statement from the Army Reserve said Friday. "Funding is available, and there should be no lapse in their ability to utilize their educational benefits. We apologize for the uncertainty and concern this may have caused."
The fix comes after Military.com reported Wednesday that reservists were unable to enroll in fall semester courses, which are set to start within two weeks at most universities. Soldiers were getting error messages and being told by education administrators that the Army Reserve had exhausted its $20 million funding allocated for tuition.
The service component had to scramble for an additional $20 million to allocate toward its tuition assistance program, an Army official with direct knowledge of the situation told Military.com.
It is unclear how the Army Reserve so badly miscalculated demand for tuition assistance. It also did not proactively contact its formations about potential tuition hiccups or issue any message on social media until Military.com's inquiry on the matter.
More money would have been made available for the new fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1, long after college bills would be due -- likely forcing soldiers to pay out of pocket, take out loans or hope the university would excuse late payments from the government.
The Army Reserve scholarship covers up to $250 per credit hour, or up to $4,500 per academic year. The benefit is separate from the GI Bill through the Department of Veterans Affairs. But the GI Bill has become more difficult to earn as overseas deployments have slowed down for part-time troops.
Education benefits are some of the military's most cherished boons and a key recruiting tool for the Army. But the service has struggled to deliver the benefits in recent years.
In 2021, the Army launched its new education benefits online portal, Army IgnitED. That platform was plagued with glitches and was effectively unusable in its early months.
The Army even dumped Deloitte, the initial contractor for IgnitED. The buggy platform pumped the brakes on beneficiaries' education, and nearly 800 soldiers had to pay out of pocket. The service is working toward reimbursing them and has largely fixed IgnitED.
That halt impacts payments for debt incurred between 2020 and 2022. The Student Loan Repayment Program, or SLRP, pays for up to $50,000 in debt. The National Guard did not respond to a request for comment on the status of that benefit.
-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.