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Stephanie Raper
In the Loop Editor

               

Free MSU Tuition for MS National Guard

Mississippians now have a new option to pay for college. Thanks to Mississippi State University, Mississippi National Guard members can earn free tuition to attend MSU.

The Bulldog Free Tuition Program originated from a discussion between Adjutant General of Mississippi Major General Janson Boyles and MSU President Mark Keenum. The funding for the program comes from money allocated by the state of Mississippi for its Army National Guard members each year. Called SEAP (State Educational Assistance Program), these funds may be used to pay for an undergraduate degree from Mississippi State University. SEAP funds may only be used to pay for tuition. Books, housing, and other expenses are not included in the program. National Guard members who choose to access the funding must meet certain conditions to be eligible.

In order to qualify for the program, current members must:
• Be an active, drilling member of the Mississippi National Guard (the Guard drills one weekend per month)
• Be a member of good standing in the National Guard
• Complete at least 12 hours per semester
• Must maintain a 2.0 GPA during their time in college

Those interested in joining the National Guard should meet the following criteria:
• Be between the ages of 17 – 35 (before 35th birthday) (must be at least a high school junior if age 17)
• Possess a high school diploma or a GED (if not currently enrolled in high school)
• Pass the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test
• Pass a physical by an approved physician
• Complete basic training and AIT (Advanced Individual Training)

Guard members who take advantage of the Bulldog Free Tuition Program also reap other benefits during enlistment. As a member of the National Guard attending college full time, students earn $387.00 per month from the GI Bill. This money goes straight to the student Guard member. Guard members also earn another $200.00 per month for attending monthly drills.

While Mississippi State is the only university offering full undergraduate degree tuition to Guard members at this time, the same offer is in the works for the University of Mississippi and University of Southern Mississippi as well. While full funding isn't yet available at these schools, SEAP funds can be used to pay tuition for the first year. After the first year, students can access Federal Tuition Assistance (FTA), available to Guard members to pay for the remainder of their undergraduate degree.

This program allows Mississippians the chance to obtain a college degree free of charge while they also learn job and leadership skills and earn a paycheck. It's a win-win for prospective college students, the National Guard, and for the state of Mississippi. If you would like more information about this program, contact SFC Gary V. Williams, Mississippi Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention officer, (662)873-1000; email: gary.v.williams10.mil@mail.mil.