Hoeven, Shaheen Introduce STATUS Act to Establish Permanent Air Guard Tuition Assistance Program

Senators Worked to Establish, Fund Air Guard FTA Pilot Program

WASHINGTON – Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) this week introduced legislation to establish a permanent federal tuition assistance (FTA) program benefitting Air National Guard members. The Air Guard Standardizing Tuition Assistance to Unify the Services (STATUS) Act requires the Secretary of the Air Force to provide tuition assistance to members of the Air National Guard, consistent with the program available to the Army National Guard. The legislation is supported by the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS).

“Our Air National Guard provides invaluable service to communities across the nation, and also performs critical missions alongside their active-duty counterparts,” said Hoeven. “Our legislation would provide drill status Air Guard members with the same educational benefits as those serving in the Army National Guard. With the recruiting challenges facing our military, it’s vital that we have a strong tuition assistance program in place to help our Air Guard attract and retain the best and brightest.” 

“All those serving in the Air National Guard deserve access to the educational benefits they deserve so we can continue attracting and retaining elite talent,” said Shaheen. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that would help make tuition more affordable and ensure that the Air National Guard has access to the same educational benefits as the Army National Guard.”

“When an individual joins the National Guard, they invest in our national security. In return, as a small token of our gratitude, we invest in their future through federal tuition assistance,” said retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson, NGAUS president. “We must equally provide for our Soldiers and our Airmen. This bill corrects a long-standing gap in National Guard benefits and will empower our Airmen to reach new heights in knowledge and skill. We thank Senators Hoeven and Shaheen for their efforts and continued support of the National Guard.”

The legislation follows efforts by Hoeven and Shaheen to:

  • Establish and fund a FTA pilot program, and ensure that North Dakota and New Hampshire Air Guardsmen had access to this important benefit.
  • Secure a total of $18.8 million across fiscal years (FY) 2020-FY2023 to support the program.

This fall, in a letter to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, the senators highlighted the success of the Air Guard FTA pilot program and its role in supporting the recruitment of individuals with the skills needed for today’s high-tech missions, like the Air Guard’s MQ-9 mission in Fargo. The senators made the case to Kendall to include $4 million in the Air Force’s FY2025 budget request to make the program permanent.