October 23, 2008

Education benefits available for Va. Guard members

FORT PICKETT, Va. — There are more than 21 various education programs and incentives available to eligible Virginia National Guard members to help realize their educational goals. Throughout Fiscal Year 2008, more than $6 million worth of Federal and State Tuition Assistance was paid on behalf of Virginia Guard members pursuing a college education. It is critical that Guard members contact the State Education Services Office immediately in order to prevent delay in services and incentives.

State Tuition Assistance Program: Eligible Guard members may receive State Tuition Assistance grants up to $2,000 per semester for tuition and $350 for books. There is a two-year service obligation beginning after the semester which TA was paid. Virginia Guard members are eligible for the STAP upon successful completion of basic training. ROTC cadets must complete basic training or equivalent Leader Development and Assessment Course in order to be eligible. Guard members must attend an approved school located in Virginia. 

Applications can be obtained from the unit of assignment and must be filled out completely including the number of credit hours and signed by the unit commander or designee. The commander’s endorsement certifies the applicant is a satisfactory participant and is eligible for the program.

The next application deadline for the State Tuition Assistance Program is November 1, 2008. In order to be considered for state TA grants for the Spring Semester, applications must be received by the deadline. For all details associated with the STAP, review the recently approved State Tuition Assistance Program regulation and the STAP memorandum announcing the TA program for the state Fiscal Year 2009 at the State Education Services webpage.

Federal Tuition Assistance: The Army National Guard Federal Tuition Assistance program provides financial assistance in support of a Soldier’s professional and personal self-development goals. To qualify, Soldiers must be in the ARNG. ARNG FTA may be used by Soldiers to pursue one credential at a secondary school or its equivalency, an associate, bachelor or master’s degree or a vocational/technical certification or license.

Virginia Army National Guard members seeking Federal Tuition Assistance must apply on-line at www.virtualarmy.com no later than 14 days prior to the start of course. FTA offers up to $4,500 per fiscal year at a rate of $250 per credit hour. AGR Guard members must apply at www.goarmyed.com.

There is no service obligation for enlisted service members when utilizing FTA benefits as long as the course is completed prior to the Soldier’s ETS date. However, there is a four-year service obligation for officers who choose to utilize Federal Tuition Assistance. Grades must be submitted no later than 30 days after the semester which TA was paid.

Montgomery G.I. Bill: In most cases, federal and state tuition assistance can be combined with other federal education assistance programs such as the Reserve MGIB (Chapter 1606) or Mobilization MGIB (Chapter 1607) Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP). If a Guard member qualifies for the Active Duty G.I. Bill (Chapter 30) and has questions about their benefits, contact the Army National Guard GI Bill support team at 1-866-628-5999 or email esc@pec.ngb.army.mil.

Student Loan Repayment Program: For members that have an existing student loan obligation at the time of enlistment or reenlistment in the Army National Guard, there is a program that may pay up to $20,000 towards federal student loans for a six or eight year enlistment as a member of a unit. In addition, current Army National Guard members who extend their enlistment contract for a minimum period of six years are also eligible for this program providing they meet certain requirements. For more information on this program, contact the State Incentives Manager at (434) 298-6290.

Chapter 33, Post 9/11 G.I. Bill: Recently, the Post 9/11 MGIB was approved offering significant changes to G.I. Bill benefits based on time served on active duty after September 10, 2001.  The Department of Defense and National Guard Bureau are currently reviewing the details and impacts of the new bill and has not released implementation guidance. The new post 9/11 is currently scheduled to be effective August 1, 2009.

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