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Pennsylvania Governor Signs Nation’s First Military Education Bill

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill paving the way for the spouses and children of Pennsylvania National Guard (PNG) members to go to college for free or at a reduced cost.

House Bill 1324, known as the Military Family Education Program, was signed by Gov. Wolf on Monday, making Pennsylvania the first state in the country to implement this type of program. Currently the third largest National Guard in the nation, the PNG has nearly 20,000 soldiers and airmen living in Pennsylvania.

The new bill, which could benefit up to 8,000 military family members, allows spouses and children of PNG members who commit to an additional six years of service to receive 10 semesters of tuition-free education.

Family members can use such benefits only at a Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) approved educational institution, and at the tuition rate set by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).

“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,” Gov. Wolf said in a statement. “The Military Family Education Program is a fitting way to pay tribute to the families who give this selfless support.”

The bill, which was first introduced by Representative Stephen Barrar in February and sponsored by nearly two dozen representatives, will also improve PNG retention and strengthen its readiness.

“In most cases, our family members do not wear a military uniform, but they serve and sacrifice right alongside our Guardsmen,” Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, said.

“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,” Carrelli added.

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