National Guard Tuition Assistance
The National Guard offers both its Air and Army Guardsmen the Federal Tuition Assistance (FTA) program as an incentive to pursue civilian educational goals during off-duty time. While the basic tenets of the FTA program are governed by the Department of Defense (DoD), each Armed Forces branch has the flexibility to manage its own program.
National Guard TA Pay Policy
The National Guard TA program assists its members in achieving their individual professional and personal development goals by providing education financial aid. In the process, the Army National Guard (ARNG) enhances the strength and relevancy of itself through better educated members. Because the FTA program in the Guard operates on a limited budget with its only money coming from the National Guard Bureau, it adopted the DoD payment criterion to support as many of its servicemembers as possible with:
- Payment of up to 100 percent of tuition costs (up to $250 per semester credit hour, or $167 per quarter credit hour) with a fiscal year cap of $4,500
- Payment for high school diploma or equivalency training at the 100 percent level for tuition and fees--subject to the $4,500 annual cap
- Payment of eligible fees limited up to $500 per term
National Guard TA may be used with the Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) or the Post-9/11 GI Bill, provided ARNG-member students are enrolled at least at the half-time level. Active duty prior servicemembers using the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty (MGIB-AD) and also receiving a GI Bill Kicker (tuition available to qualified servicemembers as part of enlistment or reenlistment contracts) are not eligible for tuition assistance.
Eligible TA Programs
The National Guard Tuition Assistance program provides financial assistance to Guard members pursuing courses or programs at regionally or nationally-accredited public or private colleges, universities, vocational, technical, or trade schools. Programs covered include:
- high school diploma or equivalency
- certificate and licensure
- associate's degree
- bachelor's degree
- master's or first professional degree
Funding is limited to one credential from each program. Doctoral programs are not authorized for tuition assistance funding.
National Guard Tuition Assistance Eligibility
Enlisted soldiers, warrant officers, and commissioned officers are all eligible to use National Guard Tuition Assistance provided the servicemember is a traditional Guardsman (part-time basis) in an active drilling status (attending drills). Guard members are eligible, and may start using FTA starting the day of joining the Guard, including prior to attending IADT (Basic Training and Advance Individual Training) or while still attending high school. Enlisted members must remain in the ARNG for the entire duration of the course in which tuition assistance is being used; no other commitment is incurred.
Officers incur an additional four-year commitment upon course completion. Should this not be completed, the TA must be paid back on a pro-rated basis. ROTC cadets on scholarships are not eligible for tuition assistance.
Applying for National Guard Tuition Assistance
Eligible Guardsmen can apply for National Guard TA by logging into ARNG National Guard Benefits Online using their Common Access Card (CAC). Once in the Website, follow instructions to complete the federal tuition assistance application.
State Education Incentives
While not every state offers State National Guard Tuition Assistance per se, most states and territories offer some type of education financial aid to their State Militia servicemembers including the:
- Minnesota GI Bill--up to $1,000 per semester for undergraduate or graduate work.
- Arizona Tuition and Fees Deferred Payment--defers tuition, fees, and book charges for up to 120 days interest free for those enrolled under the GI Bill and awaiting payment.
- New York National Guard Educational Benefit--pays tuition for credit bearing courses for student enrolled in at least six credits per semester. Benefit is capped at eight semesters for a four-year program.
- Arkansas National Guard Tuition Incentive Program (GRIP)--Provides up to $1,000 per semester for up to eight semesters of tuition assistance for ARNG members attending Arkansas public and private colleges and universities full-time. The amount is prorated for part-time students.
Generally speaking, state National Guard Tuition Assistance programs may be used with federal tuition assistance, but using multiple education financial aid programs is subject to applicable laws and policy. Using National Guard Tuition Assistance is a great way to further one's post-secondary education while maximizing GI Bill benefits.