The Pennsylvania GI Bill has been signed into law.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday signed the bill – officially known as House Bill 1324 – that would set up a program to allow the spouses and children of Pennsylvania National Guard members to attend college at no or reduced cost.
The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veteran Affairs noted the program is the first of its kind at the state-level in the country.
While Pennsylvania National Guard members are eligible for the Education Assistance Program with their service obligation of six years, the expanded offering will allow their spouses and children five years of higher education benefits with a re-enlistment of six years of service. Spouses and children can use those credits for up to 10 semesters of tuition assistance for an industrial certificate or associate or bachelor’s degree at Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency-approved educational institutions.
“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,” Wolf said during a bill signing ceremony in Harrisburg. “The Military Family Education Program is a fitting way to pay tribute to the families who give this selfless support.”
“In most cases, our family members do not wear a military uniform, but they serve and sacrifice right alongside our Guardsmen,” said Major 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.”
The program is designed to give back to military families and also increase Pennsylvania National Guard retention rates, leading to better readiness for the country’s third largest national guard.
The Pennsylvania GI Bill could benefit as many as 8,000 military family members.