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VIRGINIA BEACH(AP) -- The chief of naval personnel says the Navy wants to keep the service's tuition assistance program funded through the remainder of this fiscal year.

The Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines have all suspended their tuition assistance programs as a result of automatic budget cuts that took effect March 1.

The tuition assistance programs pay up to $250 per semester hour for active-duty personnel, or as much as $4,000 per year.

Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk told sailors at an all-hands call at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story that his goal is to maintain the program for everyone who is eligible, at least through September.

He says the Navy has about 45,000 sailors participating in the program at a cost of about $84 million.

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