UPDATE: On December 15, 2011, the DoD responded to the Senate’s request to delay the MOU. The letter, signed by Dr. Jo Ann Rooney (Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness ), states that due to Congress’ concerns the DoD would postpone the MOU deadline until March 30, 2012 (90-days).
The DoD has also posted the following on their MOU website:
DoD is providing a 90-day extension for institutions to sign the DoD MOU, from January 1, 2012 to March 30, 2012. Only the implementation date of the policy has changed to March 30, 2012. All signed MOUs are in effect and institutions that have signed or are in the process of signing the DoD MOU neither have to re-sign nor make changes to their applications.
According an article posted on the American Council on Education website, 52 senators reached out to the Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, requesting a delay in the implementation of the Department of Defense’s Memorandum of Understanding for schools that wish to participate in the Military Tuition Assistance program. Schools are required to sign the agreement by Jan. 1, 2012 in order to maintain their eligibility to participate.
The intent of the MOU is to ensure military students receive a quality education and elimnate opportunities for fraud and abuse. As reported here last week (see School’s Hesitant to Sign DoD’s MOU), many schools are considering no longer accepting tuition assistance due to what they consider a heavy handed set of policies and regulations mandating how they provide education to military students. At the heart of the issue for many schools is what they see as an infringement on their academic authority.
ACE wrote that the MOU requirements are inconsistent with well established academic policies and administrative practices. Among the conflicting issues are the MOU provisions for awarding academic credit for military experience (as recommended by ACE), in-school residency requirements, and tuition payment processing.
The effort to fight fraud and abuse is overdue and needed to help eliminate the impact of the, shall we say, less than stellar schools. However, many agree that the MOU needs some rework before requiring institutions to sign on.
The DoD indicated a willingness to work with the higher education community to make improvements to the MOU. However, the DoD has said nothing about delaying implementation.
It will be interesting to see if the latest pressure applied by the Senate will have an impact… I am willing to bet it will.