The Pentagon has introduced a new policy allowing cadets and Midshipmen at service academies who have children to continue their education, a change from the previous rule that could lead to dismissal and repayment of education costs. This policy change, mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021, includes provisions for temporary guardianship plans, leave of absence for pregnancy, and continuation of health coverage for the child but no additional benefits for the cadets until they are commissioned.
- New Pentagon Policy for Parent Cadets: The Pentagon has issued a policy permitting cadets and Midshipmen with children to stay at service academies, overhauling the previous rules that required them to leave and potentially repay education costs.
- Policy Implementation Delayed: Though mandated in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, the formal implementation of this policy was delayed, finally coming into effect on November 1, 2023.
- Provisions for Parent Cadets: The policy allows for temporary guardianship plans for the child, who cannot reside at the academy. It grants a leave of absence of one to two years for those who give birth and a temporary waiver from physical fitness requirements during pregnancy.
- Health Coverage for Children: Children of cadets and Midshipmen will receive Tricare health coverage and other benefits, but their parents won’t receive additional benefits or allowances until they are commissioned into active-duty service.
- Service Academies Adapting Independently: While the Pentagon was slow to formalize the policy, service academies like the Air Force Academy began independently adopting rules in line with the CADET Act to support cadets with children.