By Jim Tice – Staff writer http://www.armytimes.com
The eArmyU civilian education option that has provided distance learning support services to 64,000 soldiers over the past decade will be shuttered next year.
The 1,429 soldiers enrolled in the program today may continue to register for eArmyU courses until March 31, 2012 even if a course runs past the shutdown date.
Each of the soldiers has been sent a letter by the Human Resources Command, encouraging them to continue taking eArmyU classes until March 31, when they will be transitioned to regular tuition assistance.
HRC officials said many of these soldiers are simultaneously enrolled in traditional tuition assistance courses, so they are familiar with that program.
“While eArmyU has run successfully for 10 years, its has reached a point of maturity, essentially meeting its recruiting and retention objective (and) increasing soldiers’ participation in their own education development,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Bruce A. Lee, command sergeant major of the Human Resources Command.
Traditional TA is available within the GoArmyEd portal (www.goarmy.ed), and provides financial assistance up to 100 percent, not to exceed $4,500 per year and $250 per semester hour.
So far this fiscal year, nearly 160,000 active-duty soldiers have taken 282,609 tuition assistance-courses at a cost of $173.9 million, according to information provided by the Army Continuing Education System of HRC.
Online courses leading to degrees today account for nearly 78 percent of tuition assistance enrollments, which is a major reason why the eArmyU option is being discontinued.
Today more than 1,500 schools offer online degrees within the traditional tuition assistance portal of GoArmyEd, compared to 30 available under eArmyU.
When established in 2001 as a recruiting and retention incentive, eArmyU served to introduce thousands of young soldiers to computers and online learning.
Services provided by the program included access to online courses offered by 30 accredited colleges, program mentors, a 24/7 helpdesk, an Internet service provider, email account and a laptop computer, for soldiers who selected the technology package option.
Of the 64,087 soldiers who have enrolled in eArmyU since its launch at the dawn of the war on terrorism, 11,741 have earned certifications and degrees.
Ileen Rogers, director of Army Continuing Education, said, “eArmyU provided soldiers with a unique opportunity to continue their education regardless of location and in spite of increased missions and deployments.”
Today the Army spends about $1 million annually to administer eArmyU, a total that does not include tuition assistance expenditures.
Cost savings generated by the phase-out of eArmyU will be used to supplement administration of the regular tuition assistance program, according to a service-wide message issued by the Pentagon Aug. 2.