A bipartisan bill would help provide more educational opportunities for Guardsmen under the age of 25.
The Improving College Affordability for Our Guard and Reserve Act (H.R. 7372) would allow Guard and Reserve personnel to claim independent student status when applying for federal student aid.
Under current law, only active-component troops, veterans and other individuals can claim independent student status as part of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known the FAFSA, which prevents parental income from being used to consider aid amounts.
The legislation, if it becomes law, could impact thousands of Guardsmen. According to the Defense Manpower Data Center, there were approximately 211,000 members of the Guard and Reserve under the age of 25 who do not currently meet veteran or active-duty criteria.
Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., introduced the bill last week. Co-sponsors include Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., Rep. G.T. Thompson, R-Pa., Rep. David Trone, D-Md., and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio.
“Our National Guard and Reserve service members are an integral part of our nation’s armed forces,” Reschenthaler said. “If these brave men and women can serve in our nation’s military, then they have also earned the right to claim independent student status on their FAFSA.”
NGAUS has endorsed the legislation.
“Our citizen-soldiers and airmen are independent enough to sacrifice their time, sweat or blood for their nation, yet our nation doesn’t always consider them independent when it comes to their educational benefits,” said retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson, the association president. “We thank the representatives for their efforts to correct that oversight and ensure Guardsmen are afforded benefits on an equal footing with their active-duty counterparts.”
Brown said the Guard has shown its willingness to step up and serve when the country needs them, most notably during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Opening up new avenues for student aid for the Guard and reserves enhances mission readiness, recruitment and shows our thanks for their sacrifices,” he said.