New law: National Guard members eligible for tuition grants regardless of residence

By Max Bomber
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS– Any member of the Hoosier National Guard will qualify for the state’s National Guard Supplemental Tuition grant no matter his or her state of residence beginning on July 1.

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“Most of our armories are close to the border like Terre Haute and Evansville. This means we have a lot of recruits from out of state that will benefit from the grants,” Capt. Jacob Strawmyer of the National Guard said.

The National Guard worked closely with the Indiana Higher Education Commission to set up criteria that requires participants to maintain a cumulative grade point average for renewal of grants. The eligible institution will determine the minimum GPA that it determines to be suitable for academic progress.

“The bill was made to bridge the financial gap and maximize education for members of the Hoosier National Guard, who give their lives to the state,” said House Bill 1333 author Rep. Randy Truitt, R-West Lafayette.

The change in criteria will increase the number of students eligible for the National Guard Tuition Supplement Program and the National Guard Scholarship Extension Program. To be allowed to use both programs a student must have used any available state or federal assistance first. The new law requires recipients of the scholarship to use federal money. Before the bill, students would rely on the state for the full cost of tuition, said Truitt.

“Now it operates as a true supplemental grant and more independent and more stable,” Truitt said.

“There were some people in the National Guard who were figuring out they could bypass the system and have tuition paid in full by the state. This causes the grant money to be strained. With this law more National Guardsmen will be able to use it for their tuition,” said Stephanie Wilson, spokesperson for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

Now with the expansion of the National Guard’s scholarships, the guard could have a higher number of recruits. “People serving in the National Guard and Reserve are the people we want to get educated and stay in Indiana because they are highly successful,” Brig. Gen. James L. Bauerle said. “It is good business and is one positive way to stop the brain drain from Indiana.”

Max Bomber is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com a news website for Franklin College journalism students.

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