Education Benefits

 

Written by Sgt. Scott Faddis

Published March 09 , 2004

   

Spc. Jody Metzger, a student at Salt Lake Community College, studies for a biology test.
U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Scott Faddis

Spc. Jody Metzger, a student at Salt Lake Community College, studies for a biology test. 


    
Draper, Utah- Are you going to college, or have you been thinking about it? There has never been a better time for members of the Utah Guard to go beyond their high school diploma.

     In the last year a lot has changed with how the Guard can help military personnel achieve their education goals. In February 2002, the Utah state legislature passed Senate Bill 109 which requires the president of each public school to set aside two and a half percent of the instate waivers he/she authorizes each school year for members of the Guard. Last year that two and a half percent created 155 waivers for Utah Guard soldiers and airmen.

      The waivers had a value of approximately $385,000, according to Master Sgt. John Strong, the education services officer. State waivers are a great improvement, but there are not enough waivers for everyone who will be going to school next year. Waivers are available to traditional National Guard members who are considered Utah residents, are undergraduate students, and will be attending school full-time for the entire 2004-2005 school year.

     An order-of-merit-list will be developed for each school. Applicants will be ranked by institution and by their grade-point average. In May of each year, the State Board of Regents will notify the Utah National Guard on the number of waivers authorized at each college/university. "Once we have these quotas, award letters and school contracts will be sent out to the successful applicants. Applicants should know the results by the third week in June," explained Strong.

     There will not be enough state waivers for every student that applies. Any student that does not receive a waiver should apply for Federal Tuition Assistance (FTA). Although a soldier may not receive a waiver, they can still benefit from the program because there are fewer soldiers competing for the tuition assistance.

     More information and an application form for the State Tuition Waiver Program for the 2004-2005 school year will be posted on the Utah Army National Guard Civilian Education web site (www.ut.ngb.army.mil/education2) in January 2004.

    FTA is an option for anyone that does not receive the state waiver or does not qualify for the waiver. FTA is available to National Guard members trying to receive one credential from each of the following levels: 1) Secondary School (High School) Diploma or its equivalency (GED), 2) Certificate (undergraduate, graduate, vocational, technical, licensure), 3) Associate degree, 4) Baccalaureate degree, 5) Master's degree or first professional degree.

    FTA will pay up to 75 percent of tuition and general fees and soldiers may receive up to $200 per semester hour. The total amount of FTA each soldier is entitled to receive in FY03 cannot exceed 12 credit hours per semester, or more than $4,000 per year.

    There is more information about the FTA, and the interested may complete, an application on the Utah National Guard web site at www.ut.ngb.army.mil/education2.

    "This year I have been provided $285,000 (for the 2003-2004 school year). Hopefully that amount will increase (for next year)," said Strong. "It’s first-come first-serve until it is gone. Our first priority is to get all soldiers to at least a baccalaureate degree."

    There is a lot of assistance available to those that are trying to further their education. There has never been more money for school available to Utah Guard members than right now. Contact Master Sgt. John Strong at 801-523-4537 or visit the education web site at www.ut.ngb.army.mil/education2.