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Michigan National Guard State Tuition Assistance Program 2.0
In 2014, via Public Act 259, Michigan established the Michigan National Guard State Tuition Assistance Program (MINGSTAP) as a state funded education assistance program for Michigan National Guard Soldiers and Airmen to attend any public or private college, university, vocational school, or trade school within the state.  All 54 states and territories have similar programs; each program is unique in how the benefit is awarded and how it assists.  Michigan Guardsmen, in good standing, are currently eligible for up to $600 per credit hour (with a max of $6,000 per year) to apply for tuition and fees.  Some states, like Pennsylvania and Minnesota, provide higher "per year" maximums, while also affording Soldiers and Airmen the ability to transfer the benefit to spouses and dependents.  Some states, like Arkansas, offer every Soldier and Airmen a 100% tuition waiver to all state schools and a majority of private schools, to include online courses.

During the 2022-2023 Session, the Michigan Senate passed SB 0104 which was the first in steps to modernize the Michigan National Guard State Tuition Assistance Program.  The congressional session ended before the full legislature could take up the issue.  

Rep. Jennifer Conlin introduced HB 4199 in the current congressional session to amend the Michigan National Guard Tuition Assistance Act of 2014 to see the modernization that is needed for the program to remain relevant to todays Guard and families.  On 22 March, with a vote of 102-6, the bill passed the house and makes its way to the Senate for action.

MINGSTAP is a crucial benefit for the Michigan National Guard and is a representation of the state's investment in our military members for their service to the state and nation.  Education benefits are one of the most sought after incentives for new recruits, as well as retention considerations for current serving members.  As the benefit helps develop our forces, keeping MINGSTAP relevant will be crucial to ensuring that the Michigan National Guard is a nationwide leader in service to state and country.  To help adapt MINGSTAP to the needs of the current serving Guardsmen, NGAM supports changes to the program, similar to other states across the nation.  These changes include:

- Providing a "full tution" incentive.  This can be accomplished through both an increased investment and a select number of policy changes (such as requiring that MINGSTAP be used in conjunction with Federal Tuition Assistance and an attempt at FASFA aide, not providing assistance for failed courses, and ensuring that courses align with degree plans and electives).

- Allowing service members to transfer the benefit to spouses and dependents.  By establishing transferability, Michigan will be uniquely positioned to recognize that the sacrifices of a service member are also the sacrifices of the family.

- Maintaining a $600 per credit hour cap but increasing the annual cap to $14,400 per year and a lifetime benefit to only assist with 144 credit hours.

- Reimbursement will only cover those classes with a "C" grade or higher and/or toward the successful attainment of a professional certificate.

- MINGSTAP is only available to current serving Guardsmen who remain in good status.

- MINGSTAP does not cover fees or books.

These changes, currently being discussed in the state Legislature, will directly support the statewide goal to increase postsecondary credentialling of Michiganders to 60% by 2023.  Supporting this measure is an investment in our Guardsmen, their families, and into higher education within the state.  Funding will go directly to the schools, degrees will increase job opportunities, and all monies expended through MINGSTAP stays within the state of Michigan.

Please help NGAM and the Michigan National Guard support this effort by responding today.  For more information or to ask questions, please reach out to our Executive Director, Jeff Frisby, at executivedirector@ngam.org or via phone at 501-425-0834.

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