Gov. Schwarzenegger Urges Legislators to Support Bill Providing California

National Guard Higher Education Benefits

California Only State Offering No Higher Education Benefit to Reward and Retain State National Guard

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today urged legislators to pass SB 815, a bill proposed by the Governor and carried by Senator Dave Cogdill. Long overdue, this legislation is designed to close a gap within the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill allowing only Guard members who serve on a federal mission (such as in Iraq or Afghanistan) to be eligible for higher education benefits, leaving thousands of Guard members who serve closer to home without such benefits. California is currently the only state in the nation that has yet to close this gap and offer an education incentive to reward and retain National Guard members.

“This legislation is long overdue and reflects a basic truth – that each and every member of our Armed Forces who risks their life for this nation deserves a chance to go to college, to build a bright future and to fulfill their American dream,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “I urge every state legislator to stand up in support of our California National Guard members and the future of their higher education.”

The passage of SB 815 would establish the California National Guard (CNG) Education Assistance Program, making available $3.6 million to help approximately 1,300 guard members pay tuition and some fees at California’s universities and community colleges. To qualify for a this benefit, a CNG member would be required to be: a California resident and a two-year active member of the CNG, State Military Reserve or the Naval Militia; accepted to or enrolled in a certificate, degree or diploma program at a qualifying institution; and enrolled in at least three units, or the equivalent, per semester.

“This higher education assistance program will not only benefit our members and help bring California in-line with the rest of the nation, but will also enhance our retention rates as has been the case with similar efforts in other states,” said Maj. Gen. William H. Wade II, Adjutant General of the California National Guard. “I stand with Gov. Schwarzenegger in urging the swift passage of this legislation to give those that have given so much of themselves, access to a brighter future.”

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