Hoeven Urges USAF Secretary to Prioritize Funding for Air Guard Tuition Assistance Pilot Program

Senator Also Outlines Importance of Allowing Concurrent Use of Federal Tuition Assistance & GI Bill Benefits for Guard & Reserve

WASHINGTON – At a hearing of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee this week, Senator John Hoeven urged Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall to help ensure: 

  • The tuition assistance pilot program for Air Guard members is adequately funded and continues to move forward in order to support strong recruitment of individuals with the skills needed for today’s high-tech missions, like the Air Guard’s MQ-9 mission in Fargo.
    • Hoeven worked to establish and fund the pilot program, as well as to ensure North Dakota was selected as one of 14 states participating in the program.
    • The senator has secured a total of $14.8 million across FY2020-FY2022 to support the effort. During the hearing, Hoeven highlighted the importance of tuition assistance for Guardsmen and Reservists and urged Air Force leadership to budget for and adequately fund the program.
  • Guard and Reserve members are able to concurrently use both federal tuition assistance (FTA) and GI Bill benefits, similar to active duty servicemembers.
    • Hoeven led the effort to push the Department of Defense (DoD) to update this policy and allow Guard and Reserve to utilize both benefits.
    • The senator also included his Montgomery GI Bill Parity Act as an amendment to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to codify this change into law.

“Education benefits are one of the top recruitment tools available to our armed services. In order to maintain the readiness of our forces, whether active duty, guard or reserve, we need to make sure the benefits are accessible and that we have parity between the different components of our military,” said Hoeven. “That’s why we established the Air Guard tuition assistance pilot program, which gives these servicemembers the same benefits as their Army Guard counterparts. At the same time, we worked to change DoD’s policy regarding concurrent use of federal tuition assistance and GI Bill benefits and restore the full education assistance owed to our tremendous Guard and Reserve members.” 

Restoring Guard & Reserve Education Benefits 

Currently, individuals who qualify for Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (MGIB-AD), also known as the “Post 9/11 GI Bill,” are able to simultaneously use federal tuition assistance and GI Bill benefits. In 2014, Department of Defense (DoD) issued a policy that prohibited similar concurrent usage of tuition assistance with the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR). As a result of the Hoeven’s efforts and his legislation, DoD has now updated its policy to allow Guard and Reserve members to utilize both their GI Bill benefits and the tuition assistance concurrently, providing parity with active duty servicemembers. 

Providing Tuition Assistance to Air Guard Members 

At the same time, Hoeven has been working to provide tuition assistance for Air National Guard members that is in line with their Army National Guard counterparts. In 2019, Hoeven announced that North Dakota had been selected by the National Guard Bureau as one of 14 states to participate in a pilot program to provide college tuition assistance to the state’s Air National Guard members.