Governor Tom Wolf today signed into law House Bill 1324, known as the PA GI Bill, which creates a program allowing spouses and children of Pennsylvania National Guard (PNG) members to attend college at no or reduced cost.
The PA GI Bill, or Military Family Education Program, is the first program of its kind in the nation. “Pennsylvania National Guard members and their spouses and children give a tremendous sacrifice to keep residents safe.
These families endure hardships that include many sleepless nights away from one another during overseas deployments, training exercises and domestic emergencies,” Gov. Wolf said. “The Military Family Education Program is a fitting way to pay tribute to the families who give this selfless support.”
Under the PA GI Bill, PNG members who commit to an additional six years of service can receive five years of higher education benefits for their spouses and children. The program will provide for 10 semesters of tuition-free education for family member(s). The benefit must be used at a Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) approved educational institution, and at the tuition rate set by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).
The PA GI bill could benefit up to 8,000 military family members.
Currently, PNG members are eligible for the Education Assistance Program with their initial service obligation of six years that provides them a non-transferable educational benefit. “In most cases, our family members do not wear a military uniform, but they serve and sacrifice right alongside our Guardsmen,” said Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
“We thank the governor and the legislature for leading the nation in recognizing the critical support role our Pennsylvania Guard families have in securing our safety and security.”
In addition to supporting military family members, this program would also improve PNG retention and strengthen its readiness. The PNG is the third largest National Guard in the nation with nearly 20,000 soldiers and airmen who reside in every county across the commonwealth.