STAP: Helping pay for college

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Erika Brooke
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
This year's Air Force Assistance Fund campaign ends May 3. The campaign allows Liberty Warriors to help each other by donating to charities that support Airmen and their families. 

The Air Force Aid Society is one of the four AFAF charities and supports the Spouse Tutition Assistance Program. 

"The objective of STAP is to defray a portion of tuition costs for spouses of active duty Airmen living overseas, who will be pursuing higher education," said Pauline Madison, 48th Mission Support Squadron Airmen and Family Readiness Center AFAS officer. "The focus of the program is on the completion of degree or certificate programs that provide increased career opportunities for spouses." 

About two years ago, Kristel Marquart went in to sign up for classes with University of Maryland University College and the education advisor suggested she apply for STAP. 

"If I could save money, I knew that the program was right for me" said Ms. Marquart, a seven-time recipient of education awards through the Lakenheath STAP. 

She said the process was easy; all she had to do was submit the one page application, a copy of her pay stub and a copy of her husband's leave and earnings statement before the deadline. 

Potential students can pick up applications at the education center. Once they have returned the forms, the education center staff establishes the amount of the reward based on their spouse's income, grants or scholarships already received and the date in which they register. 

After the applications have been received, the president of the STAP committee has to calculate how many of the applicants are able to receive an award based on the number allowed for that particular term's funding. Most of the time, all applicants receive an award, however, if there are more applicants than funds, procedures are established to ensure the awards are distributed fairly through the STAP committee. 

Upon notification of tuition assistance, students will be given an invoice that they will need to turn into the college. The college will then turn in the invoice to the AFAS. 

"STAP has made my life easier because now I know that I am not going to have school as a debt," said Ms. Marquart. "There are many people who would love to get their degrees, but can't afford it for what they get paid. With STAP, they don't have to worry as much about debt as long as they turn in their paperwork before the deadline." 

Just recently, at the request of Tom Langdon, 48th MSS Education Center flight chief, Lakenheath received additional funding which brought the base to a $124,500 budget for use in STAP, Ms. Madison said. This additional funding was possible thanks to Airmen who donated to the AFAF. 

"Every dollar gets awarded to students, and it is very rare that anyone is turned away," said Ms. Madison. "STAP is crucial to Lakenheath families because nowadays, the costs of tuition continue to rise making it very expensive to go to school. STAP provides an incentive of financial relief, allowing everyone the opportunity for professional and personal development." 

"If more people knew about STAP, I'm sure they would jump on the education band wagon," said Ms. Marquart. 

Airmen can donate to the AFAS, the Air Force Enlisted Village, the Air Force Village Foundation and the General and Mrs. Curtis E. LeMay foundation during the AFAF campaign, which runs through May 3. 

Lakenheath AFAF points of contact
Installation Project Officer, Capt. Benjamin Martin
Alt Installation Project Officer, 2nd Lt. Kristine Baldwin
Wing Staff Agencies, Senior Airman Stephanie Weaver
48th Operations Group, Master Sgt. Darlene Curl
48th Medical Group, Capt. Jana Weiner
48th Mission Support Group, 2nd Lt. Sarah Williford
48th Maintenance Group, 2nd Lt. Art Davidson