Hoeven Outlines Efforts to Support Students Safely Returning to University, Restore Education Benefits for Guard and Reserve Members

FARGO, N.D. – At a roundtable discussion on the North Dakota State University (NDSU) campus today, Senator John Hoeven outlined efforts to:

  • Support students in safely returning to school this fall.
    • NDSU has received nearly $28 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to address the challenges of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • Restore full education benefits for members of the North Dakota National Guard (NDNG).
  • Establish a federal tuition assistance (FTA) program for members of the Air National Guard, similar to the one in place for the Army National Guard.

“As we enter the fall semester, students need certainty that they will have access to a quality education, while maintaining the safety of everyone on campus,” Hoeven said. “Through the CARES Act, we’ve provided significant support to upgrade the equipment available and adjust courses to enable more flexibility in how students and faculty interact. That is an investment both in safety today and future opportunities for remote learning. At the same time, we’ve continued our efforts to ensure our National Guard and Reserve members receive the education benefits they have earned. They provide essential service to our state, both at home and abroad, which is why we worked to allow concurrent use of FTA programs and GI Bill benefits and to set up tuition assistance for our Air Guard members.”

Support for Students

Under the CARES Act, North Dakota institutions of higher education have received the following funding to assist in safely returning to school:

  • Coronavirus Relief Fund – Of the $1.25 billion that North Dakota received through this federal program, the state has allocated $57 million to the state’s universities, including a $20 million grant to NDSU to:
    • Buy equipment that would allow students to access their classes online.
    • Purchase protective equipment and cleaning supplies.
    • Update ventilation systems with ionization equipment to purify air.
  • Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund – North Dakota’s colleges and universities have received approximately $30.5 million directly from this CARES Act program, which supports direct emergency aid to students, among other things.
  • Student Loan Relief – The CARES Act provided 6 months of interest-free deferral on student loan payments, which was extended through December 2020 by a recent executive order by the president.

As negotiations continue on the next phase of the legislative response to the public health emergency, Hoeven is supporting additional measures to ensure student safety, like the $105 billion included in Senate legislation for schools to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19.

Restoring NDNG Education Benefits

Earlier this month, Hoeven announced that the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD) will work with the Department of Veterans Affairs to enable members of the Guard and Reserve to concurrently use FTA programs and GI Bill benefits to fund their education, similar to active duty servicemembers.

Hoeven had previously been advancing his bipartisanMontgomery GI Bill Parity Act to achieve this goal, and last year, he led 12 of his fellow senators in urging Defense Secretary Mark Esper to address the issue. Hoeven has since been actively working with the OSD to reverse the 2014 Department of Defense (DoD) decision that undermined Guard and Reserve servicemembers’ ability to receive the full education benefits to which they are entitled.

Establishing FTA for Air National Guard

North Dakota was selected by the National Guard Bureau last year as one of 14 states that will participate in a pilot program to provide college tuition assistance to the state’s Air National Guard members. As a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, Hoeven secured $10.8 million in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 funding legislation to support the effort and pressed the Air National Guard to set up a tuition assistance program to match the program already in place for the Army National Guard.