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News | April 10, 2024

Helpful change to Guard tuition grant program takes effect this summer

By Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs

Soldiers and Airmen who use the Wisconsin National Guard tuition grant program to pay for college courses will see a significant change to the program, beginning this summer.

Gov. Tony Evers signed bipartisan legislation into law April 14 that now directs the Department of Military Affairs to pay college tuition directly to the educational institution at the beginning of the semester. Previously the tuition grant program reimbursed National Guard college students at the end of the semester.

State Sen. Dianne Hesselbein, one of the co-authors of the bill, said the change has the potential to close the financial gap for hundreds of National Guard college students by eliminating the need to take out student loans.

“I am proud to be a part of this common-sense, bipartisan proposal to improve college accessibility for members of the Wisconsin National Guard,” Hesselbein said.

State Rep. Alex Joers, also a co-author, described the current process of tuition reimbursement as “unnecessarily difficult.”

“It is far past time that we address this barrier and make education more accessible for our National Guard members,” Joers said.

State Sen. Patrick Testin, another co-author, said the procedural changes are one way Wisconsin can repay members of the Wisconsin National Guard for their service.

“These upfront payments will also minimize the number of students who will need to pay back certain types of federal aid,” Testin said, “because the National Guard grants can be taken into consideration before financial aid is disbursed to the student. This is a win-win situation for both sides.”

Bill co-author State Rep. Cindi Duchow said the change will streamline the administrative work for the tuition grant program.

National Guard members attending college through this program can apply up to 90 days prior to the beginning of the semester. Participating Guard members must remain in good standing with their units and maintain a minimum of a 2.0 grade point average, as well as having no delinquent child support or maintenance payments, to be eligible. Failure to maintain eligibility will mean the student must repay the semester’s tuition. Failure to maintain eligibility will mean the student must repay the semester’s tuition. The participating university collects the tuition from the student and returns it to the Department of Military Affairs — another change to the tuition grant program.

Maj. Joy Staab, Wisconsin Army National Guard education services officer, said the Department of Military Affairs is currently updating the application process to reflect the new changes. She said more guidance will be forthcoming.