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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: September 24, 2018 01:57 PM
From: Representative Timothy J. O'Neal
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation: Extending Educational Assistance Grants to the Dependents of National Guard Members
In the near future, I will be introducing a bill which amends the Military Educational Programs section of Title 51. As it stands, members of the National Guard who have received a certificate under section 3202 to participate in the Educational Assistance Program are eligible for both full-time and part-time student assistance grants at approved locations of higher learning and institutions within the State System of Higher Education in Pennsylvania.

While this legislation was originally intended to support members, who did not possess a baccalaureate degree and had also accepted a six-year obligation to serve in the National Guard, it is now recognized that some of these members may already possess a baccalaureate degree or have gained meaningful employment. Thus, there might not be as strong an interest in utilizing this grant money for themselves. If this is the case, then the General Assembly should allow men and women of the National Guard to bestow these benefits upon their spouse or child, should they choose to do so, rather than to see their years of service accrued and benefits earned go to waste.

This proposal is very similar to the education benefit transfer authorized under the Post 9/11 GI Bill for the federal active duty component of our military.

If the member of the National Guard wishes to extend their educational grant to their spouse, then the spouse may use this full-time, part-time assistance grant for no more than five academic years and must begin their studies no later than five years after their spouse’s release from initial enlistment.

As well, upon transferring this eligibility to their spouse, the member must serve two more years in the National Guard. In the case of reserving educational benefits for children, ten years of service is required, and the member must serve another four years once the grant money has been given to the child, by the age of 26. Before this decision is to be made, as far as who will utilize the educational assistance, the PA Department of Military Veterans Affairs will protect these funds. In most instances, the grant money will be equal to the cost of tuition at the highest-priced member institution of the State System of Higher Education, for full-time and part-time studies.

As citizens of the United States, we should uphold the principles of duty, honor, and country. It is not only everything we ought to be, can be, and will be, but it is what we revere when witnessing the commitment to their country, state, and community that National Guard members display daily. These individuals also often feel a commitment unto their loved ones, and we, as members of the General Assembly, should encourage others in their endeavor to pay the rewards of their service forward.

As an active duty Army officer who served in Afghanistan, as well as prior service in the PA National Guard, I was the beneficiary of these important college education programs. I truly believe that our PA National Guard Education Assistance Program should be extended to the spouse or child of an eligible Guardsman.

Please join me in support of this legislation by becoming a cosponsor.

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Introduced as HB2696