|Surrounded by Pennsylvania National Guard families, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill drafted by Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware) on Monday, July 1. The law offers a college education that can be shared with the member’s spouse and/or child in exchange for a Pennsylvania National Guard member’s six-year reenlistment.
HARRISBURG – Representing a win for Pennsylvania National Guard members and their families, landmark legislation drafted by Reps. Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware) and Chris Sainato (D-Lawrence) was signed into law. It offers a free college education that can be shared with the member’s spouse and/or child in exchange for a Pennsylvania National Guard member’s six-year reenlistment.
“From start to finish, this law was truly a bicameral and bipartisan effort, beginning when I drafted the bill with my Democratic counterpart, Rep. Sainato, who serves with me as the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. Also, Sens. Mike Regan and Lindsey Williams drafted a companion bill to give it prompt attention in the Senate,” Barrar said. “It was a pleasure to work with each of them to pass this bill.”
The educational benefit can be used at Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester universities.
The family member may also attend any institution of higher learning approved by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. If the approved institution costs less than the annual tuition rate charged by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), the student would not pay anything. If it costs more than PASSHE’s annual tuition rate, the student would only pay expenses in excess of PASSHE’s annual tuition rate.
Under the Military Family Education Program, a guard member may claim no more than five academic years or their equivalent. However, the member may split the benefit between multiple family members.
The guard member will be required to repay all or part of the grant payments made if he or she does not meet the six-year enlistment obligation, except in the cases of a line-of-duty death or disability.
“I would like to thank my colleagues in the House and Senate who unanimously supported my bill, which is the first of its kind in the country. Also because of advocacy of groups like the Pennsylvania National Guard Associations, we are able to offer another attractive benefit that will be crucial as we recruit 2,300 new members in the next year to replace guard members who either completed their initial commitments or retired,” Barrar said.
Pennsylvania National Guard members will be eligible for the benefit beginning July 1. Their family members may begin claiming the benefit on Aug. 1, 2020.
Representative Stephen E. Barrar
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Alison Evans