DOD Publishes New MOU for Institutions Participating in Tuition Assistance Program
UPDATE (7/10/14): On July 7, DOD made an edit to its May 2014 MOU. Now titled "Change 3," the edit adds a paragraph heading at 4.f.2, "Educational institutions will comply with these requirements for the return of TA funds." Even though this additional text does not change the content or intent of the MOU, DOD is giving institutions until 11:59 p.m. EDT September 5 to sign the new version.
Institutions that have already signed the May 2014 MOU do not need to sign this new version; however, they are required to sign a certification statement acknowledging they are aware of the change. Certification statements are also due to DOD by 11:59 p.m. EDT September 5.
Additionally, the FAQs on the MOU Web site have been updated.
Original News Item:
On May 15, the Department of Defense (DoD) published final rules in the Federal Register for its voluntary education programs. The rules include the newest edition of the DoD's Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which an institution is required to sign if it wishes to participate in the Tuition Assistance (TA) Program, as well as several other service-related tuition support initiatives. All institutions will have to sign the new MOU in order to participate in these programs, regardless of any previously signed MOU.
DoD had originally proposed that institutions have a TA refund policy that aligned with the Department of Education's Return to Title IV regulations. A joint comment letter from NACUBO and the American Council on Education expressed concerns with this approach. The new MOU calls for institutions to have a policy that returns unearned TA funds "on a proportional basis through at least the 60 percent portion of the period for which the funds were provided." This provision, as well as several others in the MOU, stems from President Obama's 2012 Executive Order 13607, "Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses and Other Family Members."
The agency did not deviate from its proposed rules as they relate to covered charges. DoD states that covered charges include tuition only, which is capped at $250 per credit hour. If tuition, fees, or books are bundled into a consolidated item, the institution is required to detail those charges individually.
The rules are effective July 15. NACUBO, along with several other higher education associations, is still analyzing the contents of the final rule and MOU. Further guidance will be provided soon to member institutions.