The Senate unanimously passed legislation today that would provide free college education to the spouse or child of Pennsylvania National Guard members who re-enlist, according to Senator Elder Vogel, who co-sponsored the measure.
Senate Bill 589 would establish a “Pennsylvania GI Bill for Families” to provide five years’ worth of higher education benefits to the spouse and/or children of a Pennsylvania National Guard member who commits to serve another six years.
This program will be administered by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency in conjunction with the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and is aimed at increasing the retention rates in the National Guard and attract transitioning military service members to Pennsylvania.
“Pennsylvania has a long-standing history of supporting its citizen-soldiers that dates back to our colonial days,” Senator Vogel said. “Members of the National Guard are subject to being called to active service at any time and that can a hardship for them and their families. This bill shows our appreciation for the families who support our fine men and women in uniform.”
Senator Vogel noted that when an individual originally enlists in the Guard, they are typically graduating from high school and single, and a free college education is very appealing to them. However, when a Guard member completes their initial six-year enlistment, they are likely to have a started a family and a career. For that reason, the GI Bill for Families is likely to incentivize the Guard member to re-up for another six years.
The National Guard Educational Assistance Program provides men and women a free college education – based on the tuition rate at the State System of Higher Education – in exchange for a six-year commitment in the Pennsylvania National Guard. Since 1996, over 50,000 Army and Air Guard members – or nearly 2,500 a year – have taken advantage of this program. In return, our Pennsylvania National Guard — the second-largest in the nation at 18,500 members — has remained strong, both at home and abroad. Pennsylvania’s program was the first in the nation and has been replicated across the states.
Senate Bill 589 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Contact: Charlie O’Neill (717) 787-3076 firstname.lastname@example.org