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Sequester shuts down tuition assistance for Iowa Guard soldiers

iowa national guardDue to the current fiscal challenges, the Army and Air Force have announced the suspension of the federal Tuition Assistance (TA) program, effective immediately. The announcement affects all Army and Air Force branches, including Iowa Army and Air National Guard Soldiers and Airmen.

While Soldiers and Airmen are not permitted to submit new requests for tuition assistance, those currently enrolled in courses approved for tuition assistance are allowed to complete their current enrollment and will receive federal Tuition Assistance benefits for that course.

Army and Air Force officials said this suspension is necessary, given the significant military spending cutbacks caused by the combined effects of a possible year-long continuing resolution and sequestration. Both services will re-evaluate their TA policy, should the budgetary situation improve.

Iowa National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are still eligible for state education benefits under the Iowa National Guard Education Assistance Program (NGEAP), which was created under Iowa law (see Iowa Code 2011 Section 261.86), funded entirely with State tax dollars, and available only to Iowa National Guard members. This program may pay up to 100 percent tuition at the Iowa Regents rate for Iowa public and private universities, colleges, and community colleges.

Iowa National Guard Soldiers and Airmen may also continue to pursue their educational goals with VA education benefits, if applicable, that include the Montgomery GI Bill, including Active Duty (Chapter 30), Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve (Chapter 1606), Reserve Education Assistance Program (Chapter 1607), the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and federal grants and other financial aid.

The Iowa National Guard Educational Assistance Grant provides annual grants to Iowa Guard members who attend Iowa colleges and universities. Thanks to the bipartisan support of the state Legislature, this grant is worth $6,658 per service member for the 2012-13 school year.

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