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Committee Approves O’Neal Bill to Extend National Guard Education Benefits
HARRISBURG – The House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee today reported out Rep. Tim O’Neal’s (R-Washington) legislation to extend higher education student assistance grants to spouses and children of National Guard members.

“As an active-duty Army officer who served in Afghanistan, as well as a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard, I was the beneficiary of college grant funds available to those who serve our Commonwealth and country,” O’Neal said. “While these programs were very useful to me, some of my colleagues already had earned a bachelor’s degree or were gainfully employed and did not need or could not use these benefits. My bill would permit these grants to be transferred to a spouse or child, thus allowing them to pay the rewards of their service forward.”

House Bill 2696 would allow a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard to transfer his or her Educational Assistance Program eligibility to a spouse or child. This program provides both full- and part-time student assistance grants at approved locations of higher learning and institutions within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).

If a guardsman would choose to extend the educational grant to a spouse, the spouse must begin studies no later than five years after the guardsman’s release from initial enlistment. In addition, the grant would be good for no more than five academic years. Upon transferring this eligibility, the guardsman would be required to serve two more years in the National Guard.

In the case of reserving educational benefits for children, 10 years of service would be required, and the guardsman would be obligated to serve another four years once the grant money has been given to the child. The grant would need to be transferred by the child’s 26th birthday.

This legislation is very similar to the education benefit transfer authorized under the Post-9/11 GI Bill for the federal active-duty component of the U.S. military.

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

The 48th Legislative District in Washington County includes the city of Washington; Chartiers, North Franklin, North Strabane and South Strabane townships; and Canonsburg, East Washington and Houston boroughs.

Representative Tim O’Neal
48th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Tracy Polovick
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