In July, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed the PA G.I. Bill into law, creating the Military Family Education Program. The program is open to immediate family of Pennsylvania National Guard Members. This is thanks to the state Legislature passing House Bill 1324 at the end of June.

The Military Family Education Program allows spouses and children of Pennsylvania National Guard members to go to college for free, or at a reduced cost. 

“This is something that they ought to take advantage of, we want them to take advantage of. We’re really proud of the service they give to us, we’re trying to give back to them,” says Governor Wolf.

Members of the PA National Guard who commit to an extra six years of service can receive five years, or ten semesters, of free or reduced tuition for their spouses and children. Eligible schools include any Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency approved school, and at a tuition rate set by PASSHE.  It’s expected to benefit 8,000 Pennsylvania military families.

“Our families do sacrifice, whether it’s while we’re drilling or on a deployment, sometimes extended exercises. They truly are our support system, so now this is something that we as soldiers can give back to them,” says Master Sgt. John Paul Karpovich, who submitted the first application to the program.

PA National Guard members receive a similar education benefit when they sign up for an initial six years of service. If they agree to an additional six at any point after their initial years are up, their families will receive this college benefit. This program aims to support families of guard members, and increase National Guard retention.

“Last month was the biggest recruiting month that the Pennsylvania National Guard has had in five years. A lot of that can be credited to this program and having this program available to us,” explains Maj. Gen. Anthony Carrelli of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

The Military Family Education Program is now open for enrollment for the 2020-21 school year. To sign up, service members should talk to full time staff within their unit. One of the managers will have all the application paperwork, and PNG members will need to provide a few pieces of documentation. The PNG is working with PASSHE to develop an online application to make the process easier.

Spouses of PNG members will have up to six years once the member is done serving to use the benefit. Children will have until age 26 to take advantage of the program. Pennsylvania is currently the only state offering a program like this.

To learn more about the Pennsylvania Military Family Education Program, click here: https://www.pheaa.org/funding-opportunities/aid-for-military-national-guard/military-family-education.shtml