The Senate unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Senator Mike Regan that would create the Military Family Educational Program, or “Pennsylvania GI Bill for Families.”
Senate Bill 589 would amend the State’s Military Code by establishing a new program providing five years’ worth of higher education benefits to the spouse and/or children of a Pennsylvania National Guard member who commits to serve another six years.
“We know full well that a commitment to service in the Pennsylvania National Guard is a commitment that requires the commitment of the entire family, not just the one who enlisted,” Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34) said. “Providing this benefit will help incentivize our Guard members to re-up for another six years.”
In 1996, Pennsylvania established the National Guard Educational Assistance Program. This Program provides men and women a free college education — based on the tuition rate at the State System of Higher Education — in exchange for a six-year commitment in the National Guard. Since then, over 50,000 Army and Air Guard members have taken advantage of this program. In return, our Pennsylvania National Guard — the second largest in the nation — has remained strong, both at home and abroad. Pennsylvania’s program was the first in the nation and has been replicated across the states.
The GI Bill for Families will enable men and women in the Guard to earn educational benefits for their spouse and/or children after completing their first service obligation and committing to serve an additional six years. This legislation will be administered by PHEAA in conjunction with the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and is aimed at increasing the retention rates in the National Guard and attract transitioning military service members to Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 589 now heads to the House of Representatives for further consideration.