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Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Office of the Secretary

32 CFR Part 68

[Docket No. DOD-2009-OS-0034]

RIN 0790-AI50

Voluntary Education Programs

AGENCY: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, DoD.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: In this final rule, the Department of Defense (DoD) implements policy, assigns responsibilities, and prescribes procedures for the operation of voluntary education programs within DoD. Several of the subject areas in this final rule include: procedures for Service members participating in education programs; guidelines for establishing, maintaining, and operating voluntary education programs including, but not limited to, instructor-led courses offered on-installation and off-installation, as well as via distance learning; procedures for obtaining on-base voluntary education programs and services; minimum criteria for selecting institutions to deliver higher education programs and services on military installations; the establishment of a DoD Voluntary Education Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between DoD and educational institutions receiving tuition assistance payments; and procedures for other education programs for Service members and their adult family members. The new requirement for a signed MOU with DoD from participating educational institutions will be effective 60 days following the publication of this final rule in theFederal Register.
DATES: This rule is effective January 7, 2013.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For specific information on the new DoD Voluntary Education Partnership MOU, go to the DoD MOU site athttp://www.dodmou.com.There is a "feedback button" where questions and concerns can be emailed from Service members, education centers, and institutions. Every email received through the automated feedback button will be recorded, tracked, and resolved by the appropriate DoD official. For general information concerning DoD Voluntary Education Programs, send a written inquiry to Ms. Kerrie Tucker, at the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness), Military Community & Family Policy, State Liaison and Educational Opportunities, 4800 Mark Center Drive, Suite 14E08, Alexandria, Virginia 22350-2300 or email:kerrie.tucker@osd.mil.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Executive Summary

This final rule implements Voluntary Education Programs for Military Service members. This rule includes educational programs that enable Service members to earn a degree on their off-duty time. Congress has held that men and women serving in the Armed Forces should have at least the same opportunity to advance academically as do civilians who remain outside the military.

Funding for Voluntary Education Programs is authorized by law and is subject to the availability of funds from each Service. Voluntary education programs include tuition assistance (TA) (per 10 U.S.C. 2007), which is administered uniformly across the Services. Subject to appropriations, each Service pays no more than $250.00 per semester-unit for tuition and fees combined. Each Service member participating in off-duty, voluntary education is eligible for up to $4,500.00, in aggregate, for each fiscal year. TA can only be used for courses offered by postsecondary institutions accredited by a national or regional accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

A March 2011 Government Accountability Office report on the DoD TA program recommended the Department take steps to enhance its oversight of schools receiving TA funds. As a result, a DoD Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) requirement was included in this rule, which is designated not only to improve Departmental oversight but also to account for our Service members' unique lifestyle requirements. The purpose of the DoD MOU is to establish a partnership between the Department and institutions to improve educational opportunities while protecting the integrity of each institution's core educational values. This partnership serves to ensure a quality, viableprogram exists that provides for our Service members to realize their educational goals, while allowing for judicious oversight of taxpayer dollars.

Public Comments

The Department of Defense published a proposed rule on August 6, 2010 (75 FR 47504-47514). Twenty six submissions were received which contained a total of 110 comments that were reviewed and considered. However, a substantial number of the 110 comments were duplicative, resulting in 35 actual comments. These 35 comments were grouped into just 9 topics and addressed below.

Comment:We received a comment which recommended the document recognize the potential for adjudications to arise, and that a long-term point of contact be specified to address adjudication; this should include, name, phone number and email address of the contact office.

Response:For tracking purposes, a “feedback button” was developed on the DoD Voluntary Education Partnership MOU Web page to specifically address questions and concerns from Service members, education centers, and institutions. The homepage for DoD Voluntary Education (http://apps.mhf.dod.mil/voled) also contains a link where personnel can register their voluntary education concerns. Every entry received through the automated feedback button will be recorded, tracked, and resolved by the appropriate DoD official. For general information concerning DoD Voluntary Education Programs, personnel can send a written inquiry to Ms. Kerrie Tucker, at the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness), Military Community & Family Policy, State Liaison and Educational Opportunities, 4800 Mark Center Drive, Suite 14E08, Alexandria, Virginia, 22350-2300 or email:kerrie.tucker@osd.mil.

Comment:Several commenters addressed concerns about the new requirement for schools to agree to participate in a `third party review' process that will evaluate voluntary education programs and the delivery of their educational opportunities to Service members. One commenter requested additional information concerning a waiver to this review. Since this review process will be contracted to a company outside DoD, the selected contractor will be responsible for the procedures connected with the actual review process which could include a possible waiver process. Another commenter suggested the DoD contracted `third party' evaluator(s) accompany the Distance Education and Training Committee (DETC) accreditation committees since the vast majority of DETC accredited distance education institutions are very small with small enrollments of Service members. In the long run, this may help to conserve DoD resources, give DoD a broader view of the institution, and help institutions keep their tuitions low.

Response:The comments received have been noted; however the final decision will be made by the selected DoD contractor for the complete `third party review' process.

Comment:A commenter stated that the responsibilities on page 47508: under 68.5, section (g)(2), were not in concert with the earlier section (d)(6), which states the Director of DANTES will serve “as the Executive Secretary at the Interservice Voluntary Education Board meeting convened annually to review DANTES' programs * * *” Since the DANTES Director does not serve as the Executive Secretary at the other quarterly meetings of the Interservice Voluntary Education Board, the commenter suggested section (g)(2) be rewritten as noted in (d)(6) so that the DANTES Director's Executive Secretary responsibilities do not expand beyond the annual Board meeting convened to review the DANTES mission and programs.

Response:This comment was accepted and the appropriate changes were made, which included deleting section (g)(2) and keeping section (d)(6) as is. However, the final rule lists the operational procedures relating to DANTES in section 68.6

Comment:Multiple comments were received with alternative language for the provision on tuition assistance and how it should be applied with regards to various fees as stated on page 47508, under 68.6, Procedures, section (a)(2)(ii)(D).

Response:Several recommended language alternatives were submitted and a combination statement was developed. This section now includes the following additional statement to the last sentence: “* * *are charged to all students and 100 percent refundable.”

Comment:The majority of the comments received focused on Appendix A to part 68, section 4.a. on page 47512 on the `One Single Rate to TA' and questions relating to the actual implementation, especially with schools operating in several different states.

Response:The term ‘one single rate tuition rate' pertains to the institution at a specific geographic location, not nationwide. The intent of this paragraph is to ensure that all Service members (i.e., Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, or Marines) attending the same institution, at the same location, enrolled in the same course, be charged the same amount of tuition assistance without regard to their Service component. Additionally, if an institution has more than one mode of delivery for their courses, the ‘one single tuition rate' will be the same for all participating Service members without regard to their Service component within each mode of delivery. Institutions with more than one campus will sign one DoD Voluntary Education Partnership MOU from their home, main, or parent campus, if that home, main, or parent campus signatory is responsible of all of the campuses. A listing of the specific campus locations will be included in the DoD MOU and provided by the home, main, or parent campus signatory. However, if each campus operates as a separate business entity for purposes such as handling third-party payments, then each campus signatory will sign a separate DoD MOU.

Comment:A commenter questioned the verbiage in Appendix A to Part 68 (Paragraph 5b. (7)) concerning class cancellations. It currently states: The institution will: “Inform the installation education advisor about class cancellations for classroom-based courses on military installations no later than seven calendar days prior to the beginning of the term.” At the commenter's school, approximately 40% of the registrations occur the week before the beginning of the term and during the week the term starts. The proposed rule would result in cancelling classes that, in their experience, the majority of which would gain sufficient enrollment prior to class start. In view of the above, suggest that the installation education advisor have the flexibility to set the class cancellation policy based on the situation at that installation.

Response:Suggestion to change the verbiage for this paragraph was accepted and reads as follows: “Inform the installation education advisor about cancellations for classroom-based classes on military installations per the guidelines set forth in the separate installation MOU.”

Comment:A commenter requested clarification on the needs assessment requirement stated in section 68.6, subsection (b)(1)(v) and (b)(3)(v). As stated, it was unclear to the commenter who was ultimately responsible for the administration of the needs assessment.

Response:The comment was accepted and clarification was added to the referenced paragraphs which includes:* * *periodic needs assessments conducted by the appropriate installation official (normally the Education Services Officer) for programs provided on the installation. The installation needs assessment process is used to determine such items as staffing requirements, course offerings, size of facilities, funding, or other standards for delivery of educational programs.”

Comment:Several comments were received concerning the Service-specific addendums. One commenter submitted a correction to the Navy addendum for the address to mail an official transcript. Another commenter suggested the Navy addendum be reworded concerning the response time.

Response:The Navy address was corrected in Appendix E to Part 68, 2.c.(7) and paragraph 2.c.(5) now reads: “Institutions will strive to respond to email messages from students within a reasonable period of time—generally within two workdays, unless extenuating circumstances would justify additional time.”

Comment:Multiple narrative comments were received from the general public which contained opinions, ideas, and observations, with no concrete recommendations for valid changes. However, one commenter stated, “Recognition that any required indemnification by public educational institutions in the MOU(s) may be limited by state and governing board limits.”

Response:A new paragraph was added to section 68.6, Procedures, paragraph (a)(16) which reads: “To the extent that any provision of the standard language of the DoD Voluntary Education Partnership MOU template in appendices A, B, C, D, and E to this part, results from DoD policy that conflicts with a state law or regulation, the DASD(MCFP) may authorize amending the standard language of the DoD Voluntary Education Partnership MOU template on a case-by-case basis to the extent permissible by Federal law or regulation.”

Additional clarifications were made in the final rule based on comments received from the Institutions during the implementation process of the DoD Voluntary Education Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). DoD received several concerns and apprehensions in signing the DoD MOU from institutions of higher learning (IHLs). DoD decided to work with the public stakeholders (American Council on Education, IHLs, and key veteran and military service organizations) to address these concerns by providing additional clarification to the terminology contained in the DoD MOU. These clarifications use IHL terminology instead of DoD language in the DoD MOU and definition of terms in section 68.3.

The IHLs concerns included the following key provisions in the DoD MOU contained in Appendix A to Part 68:

• Adhering to the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Consortium Principles, Criteria, and Military Student Bill of Rights (sections 3.e. and f.);

• Waiving degree residency requirements (sections 3.e. and f.);

• Recognizing, accepting, and awarding military training and education where appropriate (sections 3.e. and f.); and

• Providing an evaluated education plan to military students (section 4.c.); DoD extended the deadline for IHLs to sign the DoD MOU to 60 days following the publication of this final rule in theFederal Registerto provide the IHLs with sufficient time to reassess the agreed-upon terminology. All of the concerns from the IHLs were addressed, however the DoD MOU is voluntary and as such, DoD cannot mandate that a postsecondary institution sign. If there are institutions that choose not to participate in the Military Tuition Assistance Program, the Military Services will assist Service members to find schools that have the same program and will transfer credits the Service members have already earned. They will also provide counseling to assist them in identifying additional or alternative funding.

The changes listed below are contained in the final rule and include the following main recommendations:

• The addition of paragraph (b) in section 68.1, Purpose. Although the content for this paragraph was already stated in section 68.6, Procedures, paragraph (a)(15), it was not stated in the `Purpose' of this part. In the final rule, paragraph (b) in section 68.1 of this part states the new policy, which requires a signed DoD MOU from educational institutions providing education programs through the DoD TA Program.

• To increase clarity connected with the duties relating to the Interservice Voluntary Education Board and DANTES, the operational procedures listed for both topics were moved from section 68.5, “Responsibilities” and consolidated into section 68.6, “Procedures”. Previously, the proposed rule included operational procedures for the Board and DANTES in sections 68.5 and 68.6 of this part, which caused confusion to the reader.

• DoD received recommendations to include an implementation statement for the DoD MOU since the initial effective date of January 1, 2012, has passed. DoD also received requests to provide educational institutions with sufficient time to coordinate the DoD MOU through their legal and supervisory channels. The final rule now states a signed MOU with DoD from participating educational institutions will be effective 60 days following the publication of this final rule on theFederal Register.

• The U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy requested to delete their indemnification paragraphs contained in Appendix B and Appendix E to Part 68, due to conflicts with state laws for all of the public institutions wanting to participate in the military TA program.

Regulatory Procedures Executive Order 12866, “Regulatory Planning and Review” and Executive Order 13563, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review”

It has been certified that 32 CFR part 68 is an economically significant regulatory action. The rule has an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more.

The rule does not:

• Adversely affect in a material way the economy; a section of the economy; productivity; competition; jobs; the environment; public health or safety; or State, local, or tribal governments or communities;

• Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another Agency;

• Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs, or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or

• Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in these Executive Orders.

Funding for Voluntary Education Programs is authorized by law and is subject to the availability of funds from each Service. Voluntary education programs include tuition assistance (per section 2007 of title 10, United States Code), which is administered uniformly across the Services. As per the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) FY08, each of the Services may also provide TA to activated Service members of the Selected Reserves and Individual Ready Reserve. For Fiscal Year 2010 (FY10), the Services executed approximately $800 million for Off-Duty and Voluntary Education Programs. This total amount included tuition assistance costs of approximately$542M. The Services have currently budgeted the same amount for FY11 tuition assistance costs.

Sec. 202, Pub. L. 104-4, “Unfunded Mandates Reform Act”

It has been certified that 32 CFR part 68 does not contain a Federal mandate that may result in expenditure by State, local and tribal governments, in aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more in any one year.

Public Law 96-354, “Regulatory Flexibility Act” (5 U.S.C. 601)

It has been certified that 32 CFR part 68 is not subject to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601) because it would not, if promulgated, have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The rule updates policy and procedures for the voluntary education programs within DoD for Service members and their adult eligible family members. Guidance on voluntary education programs is available through the Education Centers located on military installations.

Public Law 96-511, “Paperwork Reduction Act”

It has been certified that 32 CFR part 68 does not impose reporting or recordkeeping requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

Executive Order 13132, “Federalism”

It has been certified that 32 CFR part 68 does not have federalism implications, as set forth in Executive Order 13132. This rule does not have substantial direct effects on:

• The States;

• The relationship between the National Government and the States; or

• The distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of Government.

List of Subjects in 32 CFR Part 68

Adult education, Armed forces, Colleges and universities, Education, Educational study programs, Government contracts, Military personnel, Student aid.

Accordingly, 32 CFR part 68 is added to read as follows:

PART 68—VOLUNTARY EDUCATION PROGRAMS Sec. 68.1 Purpose. 68.2 Applicability. 68.3 Definitions. 68.4 Policy. 68.5 Responsibilities. 68.6 Procedures. Appendix A to Part 68—DOD Voluntary Education Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Between DOD Office of the Under Secretary of Defense For Personnel and Readiness (USD(P&R)) and [Name of Educational Institution] Appendix B to Part 68—Addendum for Education Services Between [Name of Educational Institution] and the U.S. Air Force Appendix C to Part 68—Addendum for Education Services Between [Name of Educational Institution] and the U.S. Army Appendix D to Part 68—Addendum for Education Services Between [Name of Educational Institution] and the U.S. Marine Corps Appendix E to Part 68—Addendum for Education Services Between [Name of Educational Institution] and the U.S. Navy Authority:

10 U.S.C. 2005, 2007.

§ 68.1 Purpose.

This part:

(a) Implements policy, assigns responsibilities, and prescribes procedures for the operation of voluntary education programs in the Department of Defense.

(b) Establishes new policy stating criteria for tuition assistance (TA) and the requirement for a memorandum of understanding (MOU) from all educational institutions providing educational programs through the DoD TA Program.

(c) Establishes the Interservice Voluntary Education Board.

§ 68.2 Applicability.

This part applies to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Military Departments, the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Joint Staff, the Combatant Commands, the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, the Defense Agencies, the DoD Field Activities, and all other organizational entities within the Department of Defense (hereafter referred to collectively as the “DoD Components”).

§ 68.3 Definitions.

The following terms and their definitions are for the purpose of this part:

Academic.Having to do with general or liberal arts education, rather than technical or vocational.

Academic skills.Competencies in English, reading, writing, speaking, mathematics, and computer skills that are essential to successful job performance and new learning. Also referred to as functional or basic skills.

Active Guard and Reserve (AGR).National Guard or Reserve members of the Selected Reserve (SELRES) who are ordered to active duty or full-time National Guard duty for a period of 180 consecutive days or more for the purpose of organizing, administering, recruiting, instructing, or training the Reserve Component units or duties as prescribed in 10 U.S.C. 12310. All AGR members must be assigned against an authorized mobilization position in the unit they support. (Includes Navy full-time support (FTS), Marine Corps Active Reserve (ARs), and Coast Guard Reserve Personnel Administrators (RPAs)).

American Council on Education.The major coordinating body for all of the Nation's higher education institutions. Seeks to provide leadership and a unifying voice on key higher education issues and publishes the “Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services.”

Annual TA Ceiling.The maximum dollar amount authorized for each Service member for TA per fiscal year. Each Service member participating in off-duty voluntary education programs shall be entitled to the full amount authorized each fiscal year in accordance with DoD policy.

Army/American Council on Education Registry Transcript System.An automated official document generated by the Army/ACE Registry Transcript System which can be sent directly from the Army American Council on Education Registry Transcript System Center to the educational institution to articulate a soldier's military experience and training and the American Council on Education-recommended college credit for this training and experience.

Degree requirements.A planning document provided by the educational institution that outlines general required courses to complete an educational program. The planning document presents the general education and major-related course requirements, degree competencies (e.g., foreign language, computer literacy), and elective course options that students may choose for specified program of study.

Education advisor.A professionally qualified, subject matter expert or program manager in the education field at the installation education center. The following position titles may also be used for an education advisor: Education Services Specialist, Education Services Officer (ESO), Voluntary Education Director, Navy College Office Director, and Education and Training Section (ETS) Chief.

Education center.A military installation facility, including office space, classrooms, laboratories, and other features, that is staffed with professionally qualified personnel andto conduct voluntary education programs. For Navy, this is termed the “Navy College Office.”

Educational plan.A planning document provided by the educational institution that outlines general degree requirements for graduation. Typically an educational plan presents the general education and major-related course requirements, degree competencies (e.g., foreign language, computer literacy), and elective course options that students may choose for a specified program of study. This document is required from the institution upon the successful completion of six semester hours by the Service member at the institution.

Eligible adult family member.The adult family member, over the age of 18, of an active duty, Reserve, National Guardsman, or DoD civilian with a valid DoD identification card.

Evaluated educational plan.An official academic document provided by the educational institution that:

(1) Articulates all degree requirements required for degree completion or in the case of a non-degree program, all educational requirements for completion of the program;

(2) Identifies all courses required for graduation in the individual's intended academic discipline and level of postsecondary study; and

(3) Includes an evaluation of all successfully completed prior coursework, and evaluated credit for military training and experience, and other credit sources applied to the institutional degree requirements. For participating SOC Degree Network System institutions, SOC Army Degrees, SOC Navy Degrees, SOC Marine Corps Degrees, or SOC Coast Guard Degrees Student Agreement serves as this documented educational plan.

Individual Ready Reserve (IRR).A manpower pool consisting principally of individuals who have had training, have previously served in the Active Component or in the SELRES, and have some period of their military service obligation or other contractual obligation remaining. Some individuals volunteer to remain in the IRR beyond their military service or contractual obligation and participate in programs providing a variety of professional assignments and opportunities for earning retirement points and military benefits.

Military Voluntary Education Review (MVER).A third-party evaluation of voluntary education programs covered by the DoD Voluntary Education Partnership MOU.

Needs assessment.A process used to determine the staffing requirements, course offerings, size of facilities, funding, or other standards for delivery of educational programs.

Off-duty.Time when the Service member is not scheduled to perform official duties.

Ready Reserve.Composed of military members of the Reserve and National Guard, organized in units or as individuals, or both, and liable for involuntary order to active duty in time of war or national emergency pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 12310 and 12301 and 14 U.S.C. 712 in the case of members of the Coast Guard Reserve. The Ready Reserve consists of the SELRES, the IRR, and the Inactive National Guard.

Sailor/Marine American Council on Education Registry Transcript System.An automated official document generated by the Sailor/Marine American Council on Education Registry Transcript System, which can be sent directly from the Sailor/Marine ACE Registry Transcript System Operations Center to the educational institution to articulate a Sailor's or Marine's military experience and training and the American Council on Education recommended college credit for this training and experience.

SELRESorSelected Reserve.Those units and individuals within the Ready Reserve designated by their respective Service as essential to wartime missions and must therefore maintain a higher priority over all other Reserves. The SELRES includes Reserve unit members (including members in the training pipeline and drilling Reservists in units), Individual Mobilization Augmentees, and Active Guard/Reserve members.

Semester-hour TA Cap.The maximum dollar amount authorized for TA per semester-hour credit. A Service shall pay no more than the established DoD cap.

SOCorServicemembers Opportunity Colleges.A consortium of over 1,800 colleges and universities, created in 1972 that seeks to enhance the educational opportunities to Service members who may have difficulty in completing college programs due to frequent military moves.

TAortuition assistance.Funds provided by the Military Services or U.S. Coast Guard to pay a percentage of the charges of an educational institution for the tuition of an active duty, Reserve or National Guard member of the Military Services, or Coast Guard member, enrolled in approved courses of study during off-duty time.

Top-Up.An option, under chapter 30 of the Montgomery G.I. Bill and Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, that enables active duty Service members to receive from the Department of Veterans Affairs those tuition and fee costs that exceed the amount of TA provided to the Service member by his or her Service.

Troops-to-Teachers program (TTT).A Department of Education program administered by the DoD to help recruit quality teachers for schools that serve low-income families throughout America. TTT helps relieve teacher shortages, especially in math, science, special education, and other high-needs subject areas, and assists military personnel in making successful transitions to second careers in teaching.

Voluntary education programs.Continuing, adult, or postsecondary education programs of study that Service members elect to participate in during their off-duty time, and that are available to other members of the military community.

§ 68.4 Policy.

It is DoD policy, consistent with DoD Directive 1322.08E, that:

(a) Members of the Military Services serving on active duty or members of the Selected Reserve (SELRES) shall be afforded the opportunity to complete their high school education through a state-funded or Service component sponsored program, earn an equivalency diploma, improve their academic skills or level of literacy, enroll in career and technical education schools, receive college credit for military training and experience in accordance with the American Council on Education's “Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services” (available athttp://www.militaryguides.acenet.edu/), take tests to earn college credit, and enroll in postsecondary education programs that lead to industry-recognized credentials, and undergraduate and graduate degrees.

(b) Subject to the availability of funds, Service members' costs to participate in the DoD Voluntary Education Program as authorized by Section 2007 of title 10, United States Code (U.S.C.), shall be reduced through financial support, including tuition assistance that is administered uniformly across the Military Services.

(c) Information and counseling about voluntary education programs shall be readily available and easy to access so that Service members are encouraged to make maximum use of the educational opportunities available.

(d) Institutions accredited by a national or regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education shall be encouraged to provide degree programs on military installations and the Military Servicesshall facilitate their operations on the installations.

(e) To the extent that space is otherwise available, eligible adult family members of Service members, DoD civilian employees and their eligible adult family members, and military retirees may enroll in postsecondary education programs offered on a military installation at no cost to the individual Service TA programs.

§ 68.5 Responsibilities.

(a)Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (USD(P&R)).The USD(P&R) shall:

(1) Monitor implementation of and ensure compliance with this part and DoD Directive 1322.08E (seehttp://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/132208p.pdf).

(2) Establish rates of tuition assistance (TA) to ensure uniformity across the Military Services as required by DoD Directive 1322.08E, DoD Instruction (DoDI) 1322.25 (seehttp://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/132225p.pdf), and this part.

(3) Establish, under the provisions of DoDI 5105.18, the Interservice Voluntary Education Board, which will be composed of full-time or permanent part-time federal employees.

(4) Maintain a program to assess the effectiveness of the voluntary education programs.

(5) Issue written guidance annually for the funding and operation of the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES).

(b)Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness and Force Management (ASD(R&FM)).The ASD(R&FM), under the authority, direction, and control of the USD(P&R) shall:

(1) Provide administrative assistance to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy (DASD(MCFP)), in support of the voluntary education programs.

(2) Respond to matters that are referred to by the DASD(MCFP).

(c)Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy (DASD(MCFP)).The DASD(MCFP), under the authority, direction, and control of the ASD(R&FM), shall:

(1) Monitor compliance with this part and DoD Directive 1322.08E and related issuances by personnel under his or her authority, direction, and control.

(2) Oversee the DoD Voluntary Education Program.

(3) Provide ongoing and routine clarifying guidance for the DoD Voluntary Education Program.

(4) Provide representatives to professional education and cross-agency panels addressing issues impacting the DoD Voluntary Education Program, its regulatory scope, clientele, and partners.

(5) Designate the Voluntary Education Chief within the Office of the DASD(MCFP) as the Chair of the Interservice Voluntary Education Board and oversee implementation of Board and DANTES procedures as detailed in § 68.6 of this part.

(d)Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs (ASD(RA)).The ASD(RA), under the authority, direction, and control of the USD(P&R), shall:

(1) Monitor compliance with this part and DoD Directive 1322.08E and related issuances by personnel under his or her authority, direction, and control.

(2) Appoint a representative to serve on the Interservice Voluntary Education Board.

(3) Arrange the assignment of, on a rotating basis, a field grade officer, to serve as the Reserve Component Advisor to the Voluntary Education Chief within the Office of DASD(MCFP).

(e)Secretaries of the Military Departments.The Secretaries of the Military Departments shall:

(1) Monitor compliance with this part and DoD Directive 1322.08E and related issuances.

(2) Establish, maintain, coordinate, and operate voluntary education programs that encompass a broad range of educational experiences including, but not limited to, academic skills development, high school completion programs, career and technical education programs, and programs leading to the award of industry-recognized credentials, and undergraduate and graduate degrees.

(3) Require that sufficient funding is available to provide Service members with TA support consistent with the requirements in section 68.6 and appendices A, B, C, D, and E to this part.

(4) Require that educational counseling is available to Service members so they will have sufficient information and guidance to plan an appropriate program of study.

(5) Require that voluntary education programs participate in the established DoD third-party review process (i.e., MVER).

(i) The third-party review assesses the quality, delivery, and coordination of the voluntary education programs provided to military personnel on the installation, in the community, and via distance learning (DL). It assists in improving the quality of the delivery of these programs through recommendations to institutions, installations, and the Military Services.

(ii) Waivers to the third-party review must be submitted to and approved by the Voluntary Education Chief within the Office of the DASD(MCFP).

(6) Provide one representative to serve on the Interservice Voluntary Education Board responsible for their Services' voluntary education policy from each of the following Military Services: Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Each Service representative's membership will be on a permanent basis and changed only when their voluntary education policy position is changed.

(7) Assign, on a rotating basis, a senior enlisted Service member in pay grade E-9 to serve as the DANTES enlisted advisor.

(8) Require that military test control officers and test centers comply with the guidance and procedures published in the DANTES Examination Program Handbook, available athttp://www.dantes.doded.mil/Sub%20Pages/Exams/Docs/DEPH_part1.pdf.

(9) Require that personnel who provide counseling, advice, and program management related to voluntary education programs have access to the DoD Voluntary Education homepage and other Web sites so they can provide current and accurate information to Service members.

(10) Provide opportunities for Service members to access the Internet, where available, to enroll in and complete postsecondary courses that are part of their approved educational plan leading to an educational goal.

(f)Secretary of the Navy.The Secretary of the Navy, as the DoD Executive Agent (DoD EA) for DANTES pursuant to DoD Directive 1322.08E and DoD Directive 5101.1, and in addition to the responsibilities in § 68.5 of this part of this section, shall:

(1) Transmit annual guidance issued by the USD(P&R) to DANTES.

(2) Require that the Director, DANTES, provide updates on DANTES plans, operations, and activities to the USD(P&R).

(3) Through its civilian personnel system, advertise the position of Director, DANTES, when the position is vacated and appoint the Director, DANTES, in accordance with the procedures outlined in § 68.6.

§ 68.6 Procedures.

(a)TA for Service members participating in education programs.(1) TA shall be available for Service members participating in high school completion and approved courses from accredited undergraduate or graduateeducation programs or institutions. Approved courses are those that are part of an identified course of study leading to a postsecondary certificate or degree and non-degree oriented language courses integral to the Defense Language Transformation Roadmap (available athttp://www.defense.gov/news/Mar2005/d20050330roadmap.pdf).

(i) Use of TA for non-degree oriented language courses is limited to those published by the Under Secretary of Defense (P&R) on the DoD Strategic Language List.

(ii) Dominant-in-the-force languages and languages deemed by DoD as already having sufficient strategic capacity authorized will not be funded under section 2007, except for assignments outside the continental United States.

(2) TA shall be applied as follows:

(i) For 100 percent of the cost of approved high school completion programs for Service members who have not been awarded a high school or equivalency diploma and who are enrolled in such programs.

(ii) In support of the voluntary education and training of active duty Service members during their off-duty periods, each Military Service shall pay all or a portion, as specified in paragraphs (a)(2)(ii)(A) through (F) of this section, of the charges of an educational institution for education and training during the member's off-duty periods.

(A) When an institution's charges are up to or less than the limit of per semester-hour of credit or its equivalent, as specified in DoDI 1322.25, the responsible Service shall pay the entire amount charged by the institution. In computing credit equivalency, the following conversions shall apply: 1 quarter-hour credit =2/3semester-hour credit; and 45 contact hours shall be considered equivalent to one semester-hour credit when neither semester- nor quarter-hours are specified for the education or training for which the Service member is enrolled.

(B) When an institution's charges exceed the per semester-hour of credit, or its equivalent limit as specified in DoDI 1322.25,the responsible Service shall pay no more than the specified limit per semester-unit for tuition and fees combined.

(C) Each Service member participating in off-duty, voluntary education shall be allowed up to the fiscal year limit amount specified in DoDI 1322.25.

(D) Covered charges include those that are submitted to the Service by the educational institution for tuition, instructional fees, laboratory fees, computer fees, and other fees directly related to the specific course enrollment of that member in that educational institution, are charged to all students, and 100 percent refundable.

(E) TA funds are not to be used for the purchase of books. Additionally, institutional education revenue generated from military TA funds cannot be used to support textbook grants or scholarships.

(F) To be eligible to receive TA, a Service member must meet the minimum requirement of successfully completing basic training. Reserve Component members are exempt from the requirement to first attend basic training before authorized to receive TA. Additional, respective Service requirements must be met to include training qualification, unit assignment, and time in service criteria.

(iii) The TA rate, credit cap, and annual per capita ceiling, shall be reviewed periodically in consideration of inflation and other effects, and shall be applicable uniformly whether instruction is delivered traditionally in-the-classroom or through distance education. Rates of TA other than as identified in paragraphs (a)(2)(ii)(A) through (F) of this section are not authorized.

(3) TA is available to a commissioned officer on active duty, other than an officer serving in the Ready Reserves (addressed in paragraphs (4)(i) and (5)(i) of this section), only if the officer agrees to remain on active duty, for a period of at least two years after the completion of the education or training for which TA was paid (see 10 U.S.C. 2007).

(4) The Secretary of the Military Department concerned may only make TA available to a member of the SELRES, pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 2007, under the following conditions:

(i) In the case of a commissioned officer, the officer must agree to remain a member of the SELRES for at least four years after completion of the education or training for which TA is paid.

(ii) In the case of an enlisted member, the Secretary concerned may require the member of the SELRES to enter into an agreement to remain a member of the SELRES for up to four years after completion of the education or training for which TA is paid.

(5) The Secretary of the Military Department concerned may only make TA available to a member of the IRR who has a military occupational specialty designated by the Secretary concerned pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 2007 and only under the following conditions:

(i) In the case of a commissioned officer, the officer must agree to remain a member of the SELRES or IRR for at least four years after completion of the education or training for which TA was paid.

(ii) In the case of an enlisted member, the Secretary concerned may require the member of the IRR to enter into an agreement to remain a member of the IRR for up to four years after completion of the education or training for which TA is paid.

(6) Members performing Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) duty under either 10 U.S.C. 12310 or active duty under 14 U.S.C. 712 are eligible for TA under paragraph (a)(4) of this section.

(7) The Secretary of the Military Department concerned may make TA available to National Guard members in accordance with paragraph (a)(4), except for National Guard members assigned to the Inactive National Guard.

(8) Reimbursement and repayment requirements:

(i) If a commissioned officer or member of the RR does not fulfill a specified Service obligation as required by section 2007 of 10 U.S.C., they are subject to the repayment provisions of section 303a(e) of title 37 U.S.C.

(ii) For other conditions pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 2005, the Secretary concerned may require a Service member to enter into a written agreement when providing advanced education assistance. If the Service member does not fulfill any terms or conditions as prescribed by the Secretary concerned, the Service member will be subject to the repayment provisions of 37 U.S.C. 303a(e).

(iii) Pursuant to 37 U.S.C. 303a(e), the Secretary concerned may establish procedures for determining the amount of the repayment required from the Service member and the circumstances under which an exception to the required repayment may be granted.

(iv) Reimbursement will be required from the Service member if a successful course completion is not obtained. For the purpose of reimbursement, a successful course completion is defined as a grade of “D” or higher for undergraduate courses, a “C” or higher for graduate courses and a “Pass” for “Pass/Fail” grades. The Secretary of the Military Department will establish recoupment processes for unsuccessful completion of courses.

(9) Students using TA must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 or higher after completing 15 semester hours, or equivalent, in undergraduate studies, or a GPA of 3.0 or higher in graduate studies on a 4.0 grading scale.

(10) TA shall not be authorized for any course for which a Service member receives reimbursement in whole or inpart from any other Federal source when the payment would constitute a duplication of benefits. Academic institutions have the responsibility to notify the Service if there is any duplication of benefits, determine the amount of credit that should be returned, and credit the amount back to the Service. The use of funds related to veterans' benefits to supplement TA received by active duty and Reserve component personnel is authorized in accordance with applicable U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs guidelines.

(11) Pell Grants may be used in conjunction with TA assistance, including their use to pay that portion of tuition costs not covered by TA.

(12) TA shall be provided for courses provided by institutions awarding degrees based on demonstrated competency, if:

(i) Competency rates are equated to semester or quarter units of credit, and

(ii) The institution publishes traditional grade correlations with “Pass/Fail” grades, and

(iii) The institution provides a breakdown by course equivalent for Service members.

(13) Enrollment in a professional practicum integral to these types of programs is also authorized. However, normal DoD TA caps and ceilings apply; the cost of expanded levels of enrollment over and above these enrollment levels and normal caps and ceilings must be borne by the student.

(14) When used for postsecondary training or education, TA shall be provided only for courses offered by postsecondary institutions accredited by a national or regional accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

(15) Sixty days following the publication of this part in theFederal Register, to receive TA, an institution's home campus must be a signatory of the DoD Voluntary Education Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in appendices A, B, C, D, and E to this part, and the MOU must be posted on the DoD Web site. One DoD Voluntary Education Partnership MOU with the institution's home campus will cover any program offered by the institution, regardless of location.

(16) To the extent that any provision of the standard language of the DoD Voluntary Education Partnership MOU template in appendices A, B, C, D, and E to this part, results from DoD policy that conflicts with a state law or regulation, the DASD(MCFP) may authorize amending the standard language of the DoD Voluntary Education Partnership MOU template on a case-by-case basis to the extent permissible by Federal law or regulation.

(b)Guidelines for establishing, maintaining, and operating voluntary education programs.(1) Education programs established under this part by each Military Service shall:

(i) Provide for the academic, technical, intellectual, personal, and professional development of Service members, thereby contributing to the readiness of the Military Services and the quality of life of Service members and their families.

(ii) Increase Service members' opportunities for advancement and leadership by reinforcing their academic skills and occupational competencies with new skills and knowledge.

(iii) Lead to a credential, such as a high school diploma, certificate, or college degree, signifying satisfactory completion of the educational program.

(iv) Include an academic skills program, which allows personnel to upgrade their reading, writing, computation, and communication abilities in support of academic skills and military occupations and careers. Academic skills programs may include English as a Second Language and basic science.

(v) Include programs and college offerings that support findings from periodic needs assessments conducted by the appropriate installation official (normally the Education Services Officer) for programs provided on the installation. The installation needs assessment process is used to determine such items as staffing requirements, course offerings, size of facilities, funding, or other standards for delivery of educational programs. Duplication of course offerings on an installation should be avoided. However, the availability of similar courses through correspondence or electronic delivery shall not be considered duplication.

(vi) Be described in a publication or on-line source that includes on-installation educational programs, programs available at nearby installations, and colleges and universities nearby the installation.

(2) Each Military Service, in cooperation with community educational service providers, shall provide support essential to operating effective education programs. This support includes:

(i) Adequate funds for program implementation, administration, and TA.

(ii) Adequately trained staff to determine program needs, counsel students, provide testing services, and procure educational programs and services.

(iii) Adequate and appropriate classroom, laboratory, and office facilities and equipment, including computers.

(iv) Access to telecommunications networks, computers, and libraries at times convenient to active duty personnel.

(3) In operating its programs, each Military Service shall:

(i) Provide to newly assigned personnel, as part of their orientation to each new installation or unit of assignment for Reserve component personnel, information about voluntary education programs available at that installation, unit, or State for RC personnel.

(ii) Maintain participants' educational records showing education accomplishments and educational goals.

(iii) Provide for the continuing professional development of their education services staff, including the participation of field staff in professional, as well as Service-sponsored, conferences, symposiums, and workshops.

(iv) Provide educational services, including TA counseling, academic advice and testing to their personnel and to personnel of other Services (including the U.S. Coast Guard when operating as a service in the Navy) who are assigned for duty at installations of the host Service.

(v) Continually assess the state of its voluntary education programs and periodically conduct a formal needs assessment by the appropriate installation official (normally the Education Services Officer) to ensure that the best possible programs are available to their members at each installation or in their State or area command for RC personnel. It is essential that a formal needs assessment be conducted if there is a significant change in the demographic profile of the installation population.

(4) Eligible adult family members of Service members, DoD civilian employees and their eligible adult family members, and military retirees may participate in installation postsecondary education programs on a space-available basis at no cost to the individual Service TA programs.

(5) At locations where an educational program that is offered on an installation is not otherwise conveniently available outside the installation, civilians who are not directly employed by the DoD or other Federal agencies, and who are not eligible adult family members of DoD personnel, may be allowed toparticipate in installation educational programs. While such participation contributes to positive community relations, participation must be on a student-funded, space-available basis at no cost to the individual Service TA programs, after the registration of Service members, DoD civilian employees, eligible adult family members, and military retirees. Additionally, a review of these potential participants by the relevant installation ethics counselor may be required as part of the installation commander's access requirements if the educational institution has been approved to operate on the base. Participation may also be subject to the terms of status-of-forces or other regulating agreements.

(6) Education centers and Navy College offices shall maintain liaison with appropriate State planning and approving agencies and coordinating councils to ensure that planning agencies for continuing, adult, or postsecondary education are aware of the educational needs of military personnel located within their jurisdiction.

(7) In supporting a high school completion program, each Military Service shall:

(i) Ensure that all Service members with less than a high school education have the opportunity to attain a high school diploma or its equivalent.

(ii) Ensure that neither a Military Service nor DANTES issues a certificate or similar document to Service members based on performance on high school equivalency tests. Military Services shall recognize attainment of high school completion or equivalency only after a State- or territory-approved agency has awarded the appropriate credential.

(iii) Pay 100 percent of the cost of high school equivalency instruction or proficiency testing and credentialing for Service members.

(iv) Ensure that Service sponsored high school diploma programs are delivered by institutions that are accredited by a regional accrediting body or recognized by a State's secondary school authority.

(c)Procedures for obtaining voluntary education programs and services on military installations.(1) Educational institutions interested in providing education and training opportunities on a military installation will provide their proposals to the installation education advisor, who will review and analyze these proposals on behalf of the installation commander.

(2) To obtain viable educational programs on a military installation, the installation education advisor shall communicate the installation's educational needs to a wide variety of potential providers.

(3) A military installation seeking to obtain educational programs shall provide to interested providers:

(i) The level of instruction desired and specific degree programs being sought.

(ii) A demographic profile of the installation population and probable volume of participation in the program.

(iii) Facilities (availability of space), equipment, supporting services that the installation will provide without charge, and level of security that can be expected.

(iv) A copy of this part.

(v) Special requirements such as:

(A) Format (e.g., distance, evening, or weekend classes), independent study, short seminar, or other mode of delivery of instruction.

(B) Unique scheduling problems related to the operational mission of the installation.

(C) Any installation restrictions, limitations, or special considerations relevant to using an alternate delivery system (DL, etc.).

(D) Available computer hardware and supporting equipment.

(E) Electrical, satellite, and network capabilities at the site.

(5) A Military Service considering an alternate delivery provider shall ascertain:

(i) If students will need special training or orientation for special courses or programs or for alternate delivery methods (DL, etc.) and, if so, how students will receive such orientation.

(ii) What electronic equipment and technical support are necessary at local sites.

(iii) If it will be necessary to have on-site facilitators.

(6) In evaluating proposals, potential providers must meet, at a minimum, the following criteria:

(i) Programs satisfy objectives defined by the most recent needs assessment.

(ii) Programs, courses, and completion requirements are the same as those at the provider's main administrative and academic campus.

(iii) The institution granting undergraduate academic credit must adhere to the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) Consortium Principles and Criteria (available athttp://www.soc.aascu.org/socconsortium/PublicationsSOC.html) regarding the transferability of credit and the awarding of credit for military training and experience.

(iv) The provider is prepared to offer academic counseling and flexibility in accommodating special military schedules.

(v) Institutions agree to sign the DoD Voluntary Education Partnership MOU.

(7) In evaluating proposals, potential alternative delivery providers must meet, at a minimum, the following additional criteria:

(i) Documentation shows that courses offered using the alternative delivery mode have been used successfully for at least two years.

(ii) The program and delivery method address the needs of the population to be served.

(iii) Support systems exist to back up the delivery method.

(iv) Institutions agree to sign the DoD Voluntary Education Partnership MOU.

(8) In establishing education programs on military installations, appropriate U.S. Government officials shall seek favorable tuition rates, student services, and instructional support from providers.

(d)Minimum criteria for selecting institutions to deliver higher education programs and services on military installations.To be selected, institutions must:

(1) Be chartered or licensed by a State government or the Federal Government, and have State approval for the use of veterans' educational benefits for the courses to be offered.

(2) Be accredited by a national or regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

(3) Conduct programs only from among those offered or authorized by the main administrative and academic office in accordance with standard procedures for authorization of degree programs by the institution.

(4) Ensure main administrative and academic office approval in faculty selection, assignment, and orientation; and participation in monitoring and evaluation of programs. Adjunct or part-time faculty shall possess comparable qualifications as full-time permanent faculty members.

(5) Conduct on-installation courses that carry identical cr