Marines using tuition assistance must complete new course

Marines applying for to the Corps' ​tuition assistance program ​for the first time must now take a new introductory online course.

Effective immediately, completion of the Higher Education Preparation course is mandatory for approval to the program and replaces the previous College 101 requirement at all installations, according to Marine administrative message 040/16.

The online course is intended to streamline information across the force, said Daryl Patrick, education program manager for Marine and Family Programs Division, Marine Corps headquarters​.

"It basically provides [Marines] information on choosing and applying to an institution to help them meet their goals, and also provides them a basic understanding of their tuition assistance usage and what other avenues they can take," he said.

Marines can access the new


​course on their own time with their common access card via the military's Joint Knowledge Online websiteat number HEP-US001


The hourlong course is broken into multiple modules, including education, available scholarships, academic expectations and setting individual goals.

"After each topic, [Marines] have a test they complete, so it’s not something you can skip through," Patrick said. "It’s something you have to go through, complete each topic and complete the test before you get a certificate at the end."

Marines present the course completion certificate to their education service officer, who then enters it into the Navy College Management Information System.

This opens the door for Marines to potentially access thousands of dollars in tuition assistance to begin their academic career.

"We’re always looking for something that’s good, that’s not going to hinder Marines; something to make it easier for them to start their careers," Patrick said. "It gives them a taste of education before they get out there to pursue their education."

Before the HEP course was introduced, Marines were required to take the College 101 course, which basically explained what tuition assistance is and how to apply for it, Patrick said.

"The problem was [College 101] wasn’t consistent across the board," he said. "Each base was doing their own classes."

The new HEP course, however, provides more information and specific guidance tailored to each Marine’s individual goals.

Young Marines often don’t know how to take advantage of the tuition assistance program or what their goals are; the new course points them in the right direction, Patrick said.

"It’s not a different or additional requirement," he said. "It’s replacing a prior requirement, so there’s no additional work."

Matthew L. Schehl covers training and education, recruiting, West Coast Marines, MARSOC, and operations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East for Marine Corps Times. He can be reached at


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