By Maryland Military Department
Governor Martin O'Malley signed into law May 7 two bills which will affect higher education benefits of members of the Maryland National Guard.
House Bill 1465, a departmental bill, authorizes the Maryland Military Department to provide tuition assistance for Guard members taking graduate, professional, vocational-technical and trade school courses at any University System of Maryland campus, any community college established under Title 16 of the Education Article, Morgan State University or St. Mary's College.
The governor signed Senate Bill 373, which enables MDNG members, who live in a different state, to pay in-state tuition at Maryland state schools. Introduced by Senator Ulysses Currie, District 25 (Prince George's County), the legislation requires Guard members to hold certain military occupational specialties to be eligible.
"These bills are essential recognition of the steadfast commitment of all Maryland National Guard members who serve this state," O'Malley said. "What these bills demonstrate is that no matter where you live, the state of Maryland is committed to furthering the education goals of those serving in the Maryland National Guard."
The new laws can affect a large number of Guard members, according to the Maryland National Guard Education Office. Approximately 40 non-resident MDNG members are attending Maryland public universities, and an estimated 450 to 500 Soldiers and Airmen are likely to pursue advanced degrees within the next three years. Enabling out-of-state Guard members to pay in-state tuition is especially significant.
The current in-state tuition at the University of Maryland-College Park is $8,005 per year compared with $23,076 for non-residents. Both modifications provide new education opportunities for Maryland Guardsmen.
"This legislation will no doubt enhance our ability to recruit and retain Soldiers and Airmen and puts the Maryland National Guard on the same level playing field as other states which offer similar educational opportunities and benefits," said the Adjutant General for Maryland Brig. Gen. James A. Adkins.
In short, these new laws will make college more affordable for more Families.
The National Guard education bills are in line with O'Malley's focus on putting Families first, particularly now during the current economic downturn.