LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Over the weekend, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill extending financial aid benefits for higher education for spouses and dependents of Michigan’s National Guard servicemen and women. 

Under House Bill 4199, introduced by Representative Jennifer Conlin (D-Ann Arbor), the eligibility for tuition assistance for family members of the National Guard members expands and also increases the funding ceiling by $5 million from its previous $10 million cap. 

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“The program offers members of the guard tuition assistance, so they can pursue higher education or skills training at a lower cost. But we know that next to every member of the Guard is a family: an invaluable support system that makes countless sacrifices,” Whitmer said.

Any service member attending a public or private college, university, technical school, or trade school in Michigan would benefit from the Michigan National Guard Tuition Assistance Program.

“With the signing of HB 4199 into law, National Guard families in Michigan will have the flexibility to use the educational benefits that they have earned,” Rep. Conlin said in a statement. “The law will fulfill a dual purpose: directly providing opportunities to service member spouses and dependents and tackling the challenge of recruitment and retention head-on through the offering of this incentive.”

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U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, Adjutant General and Director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs also claimed that the Governor is “serious about supporting military families.” 

“Since the program’s inception, over 6,000 guard members have benefited from MINGSTAP and now thousands of eligible spouses and dependents will have the same opportunity to earn a tuition-free degree or professional certificate,” Rogers said in the release.

Last February, the Governor expressed her hopes for expanding the tuition assistance which would also contribute to Michigan’s goal of expanding the working age population’s percentage of adults with postsecondary and skills training degrees and certificates. 

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“Expanding eligibility for tuition assistance will also help more Michiganders get on a path to good-paying jobs and help Michigan achieve its Sixty by 30 goal of having 60% of Michiganders attain a postsecondary degree or skills training by 2030,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

The program first originated in Michigan nearly a decade ago.