The exact requirements to join the National Guard vary depending on the state in which you are located; however, there are a few common requirements that people need to meet. Members of the National Guard are required to be United States citizens or permanent residents. They also need to be between the ages of 17 and 35 and be a least a high school junior or have a high school diploma or GED. There is typically an examination that people have to pass before they are accepted into the National Guard. Anyone who is able to meet these requirements should be able to join the National Guard in their home state.
Serving in the National Guard is a major commitment. That is why there are a lot of benefits that have been made available to those who serve. The exact benefits that someone can earn can vary from state to state, but they fall under a few categories.
National Guard members can take advantage of federal programs like the Montgomery G.I. Bill and the Reserve Educational Assistance Program to help with college tuition. These programs allow those who have served to attend college without having to take on any additional debt.
There are several states that offer free tuition to National Guard members. For example, Alaska allows people to attend any college or university in the state system for free. In addition, the Arizona Tuition waiver scholarship allows members of the National Guard to attend any public state university for free. California also has its own GI bill, which allows members of the National Guard to attend community college or university schools in the state for free. Colorado is another school that provides educational assistance, but the tuition assistance is usually capped at $4,250 per semester.
Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming also offer educational benefits to National Guard members.
The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs helps current National Guard members and veterans in purchasing a home. VA Home Loans are available to those who served for six years or more in the Selected Reserve or served for at least three months during a wartime period as an active duty member.
VA Loans are provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The department offers two different loans. With direct home loans, the department is the mortgage lender. VA-backed loans help to secure loans. Because a portion of the loan is guaranteed by the VA, lenders are more likely to provide the loan to those who may not otherwise qualify, usually without the need for a down payment.
National Guard members may additionally be eligible for other benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Group life insurance policies are available. VA-provided health care can also be offered to current and retired National Guard members. It is important to discuss any specifics with the Department of Veterans Affairs as many benefits are determined by the type and length of service.
Per Semester (USD)
Per Year (USD)
Tution Waiver %
|Alabama||Public Only||$2,000||-||Up to 18 credits per semester after FTA is applied. Reimbursement for in-state institutions other than University of Alaska with a cap of $2,000 for course, $1,500 for certificates. Associate through masters plus certifications.|
|Alaska||Both||$5,687||-||Up to $5,687 per semester or $3,791 per quarter for tuition and fees. Associate through doctoral degree plus certifications.|
|Arizona||Both||$250||-||Up to $250 per semester hour up to $5,250 per fiscal year (1 July to 30 June). Associate through doctoral degree plus certifications.|
|Arkansas||Public Only||-||-||100%||100% tuition and fees after other state/federal funding are applied. Up to Bachelor’s degree only.|
|California||Both||-||-||Depending on type of school, the maximum 9-month award amount for an undergraduate is $12,500. Associate through doctoral degree plus certifications.|
|Colorado||Both||$5,000||-||Up to $5,000 paid per semester/trimester/quarter. Cap of 132 semester hours or 8 calendar years, whichever is reached first. Associate through doctoral degree plus certifications.|
|Connecticut||Public Only||-||-||100%||100% Tuition. Associate through master’s degree plus certifications.|
|Delaware||Both||-||-||100%||Up to the in-state tuition rate 100%. Associate through master’s degree plus certifications.|
|Florida||Both||-||-||100%||100% tuition. Associate through master’s degree plus certifications. Subject to availability of funds.|
|Georgia||Both||-||-||100%||100% tuition at state schools (or up to $2,174/sem. at other approved schools) for undergrad. Less than 100% for master’s and doctoral degrees and certifications. Georgia Hero Scholarship up to $2,000/year for 4 years.|
|Hawaii||Public Only||-||-||50%||50% for tuition at university, 100% for community college/semester. Up to bachelor’s degree.|
|Idaho||Both||-||$8,000||Up to $8,000/Fiscal Year for E-6 and below, O-1 to O-3, and W1 to W-3 and up to $4,000 for E-7 and above, O-4 and above, and W4 and above. Up to $20K per Technical Program not covered with FTA. Associate through doctoral degree plus certifications.|
|Illinois||Public Only||-||-||100%||100% tuition (max of 180 credit hours). Associate through doctoral degree plus certifications.|
|Indiana||Public Only||-||-||100%||Up to 100% Tuition (up to 15 SH) and certain fees after FTA is used. Associate through master’s degree.|
|Kansas||Both||-||-||100%||100% tuition and required fees for 15 credit hours per semester. Capped at the highest public in-state rate. Associate through bachelor's degree plus certifications.|
|Kentucky||Both||-||-||100%||Pays 100% in-state tuition at any KY public college. Participating private schools eligible, paid up to average cost of 4-year public college (currently $5,136 per semester), up to bachelor's degree.|
|Louisiana||Public Only||-||-||100%||100% tuition (no fees). Associate through master’s degree.|
|Maine||Public Only||-||-||100%||100% tuition and academic fee free. Associate through master’s degree plus certifications.|
|Maryland||Both||-||-||50%||Up to 50% of tuition and fees for waiver and up to $750 or 50% of remaining balance after applying all other applicable benefits. Associate through master’s degree plus certifications.|
|Massachusetts||Public Only||-||-||100%||100% tuition and academic fee free. Associate through master’s degree plus certifications.|
|Michigan||Both||-||$6,000||$600 per SH, up to $6000/year undergraduate. Graduate and certifications up to $14,000/year.|
|Mississippi||Both||$2,500||-||$2,500 per semester not to exceed $5,000/year at four-year schools. $1,100 per semester not to exceed $2,200/year at 2-year schools. Must use FTA first if eligible. Associate through master’s degree.|
|Missouri||Both||-||-||Rate is the University of Missouri rate (currently $335.80 SH). Associate through master’s degree.|
|Montana||Public Only||-||-||100%||100% tuition. Associate through bachelor’s degree.|
|Nebraska||Both||-||-||100%||100% tuition up to UNL base in-state rate for associates and bachelor’s degree, 50% of tuition for graduate and doctoral degrees.|
|Nevada||Public Only||-||-||100%||100% tuition. Associate through doctoral degree plus certifications.|
|New Hampshire||Public Only||-||-||100%||100% tuition. Must use FTA first. Associate through doctoral degree plus certifications.|
|New Jersey||Public Only||-||-||100%||100% tuition up to 16 credits per semester (undergraduate & graduate). Associate through doctoral degree plus certifications.|
|New Mexico||Public Only||-||-||100%||Up to 100% tuition. 150 SHs or bachelor’s degree; whichever comes first. Associate through bachelor’s degree.|
|New York||Both||-||-||100%||100% of SUNY tuition rate. Associate through bachelor’s degree.|
|North Carolina||Both||-||-||100%||Only schools approved by the NC State Approving Agency are authorized. Benefits include up to 100% tuition and fees at NC Community Colleges and undergraduate degree at UNC (graduate and doctoral programs paid at undergraduate rate). Up to $3,000/year at NC private schools, certifications, and flight training. Based on funding availability.|
|North Dakota||Both||-||-||100%||Private schools must agree to waive 25% of tuition. Benefits include up to 100% tuition. Rate capped at the highest rate of ND state school. Associate through doctoral degree plus certifications.|
|Ohio||Both||-||-||100%||100% tuition for Ohio public schools. Private schools is average cost of public schools. Associate through bachelor’s degree.|
|Oklahoma||Public Only||-||-||100%||100% tuition and fees at public in-state schools. Up to 18 credits per semester. Associate through master’s degree.|
|Oregon||Public Only||-||-||100%||100% tuition and universal fees at public schools. $247/per credit at private schools. $1,000 book sti-pend/year. Must use FTA first. Associates through bachelor’s degree plus certifications.|
|Pennsylvania||Both||-||-||100%||100% tuition plus technology fee ($3,858/semester plus a $239 technology fee for full time students or $322 per credit and a $20 technology fee per credit for part time students. Associate through doctoral degree plus certifications.|
|Rhode Island||Public Only||-||-||100%||100% tuition, five classes per semester at three state colleges. Associate through bachelor’s degree plus certifications.|
|South Carolina||Both||$2,750||-||$2,750 per semester, maximum of $5,500 per academic year not to exceed $22,000 or 130 credit hours throughout the SM’s lifetime. Funds may not exceed the cost of attendance when applied with all other grants and assistance. Associate through bachelor’s degree plus certifications.|
|South Dakota||Public Only||-||-||50%||50% off tuition at six Board of Regents public schools. 83.5% off tuition at four SD Department of Education Technical Institutes. Associate through master’s degree plus certifications.|
|Tennessee||Both||-||-||100%||100% tuition up to 120 credit hours for undergraduate, up to 40 credit hours for master’s degree.|
|Texas||Both||$4,500||-||Up to $4,500 per semester for tuition and fees, up to 12 SHs. Can be used up to 10 semesters. Associate through doctoral degree.|
|Utah||Both||-||$6,000||100%||Two Programs; 100% waiver at public schools plus up to $1,000 for fees toward a bachelor’s degree. STA covers up $250/SH up to $6,000/year for tuition, up to $7,000 for STEM or Cyber including fees. Soldiers may use FTA for tuition and STA for fees if in a verified STEM-C program. Associate through doctoral degree plus certifications. Subject to the availability of funds.|
|Vermont||Both||-||-||Forgivable loan to any State School, or the amount the University of Vermont charges for in-state students to any Vermont Private School. Bachelors or 2nd bachelors through master’s degree.|
|Virginia||Public Only||-||-||100%||100% tuition waiver, not to exceed 32 semester hours. Associate through doctoral degree.|
|Washington||Both||-||-||100%||Up to 100% tuition and fees based on rate at the University of Washington, plus a $500 annual book stipend. Associate through master’s degree plus certifications.|
|West Virginia||Both||$7,000||-||Up to $7,000/year. Associate through master’s degree plus certifications.|
|Wisconsin||Both||-||-||100%||Three programs. 100% tuition at any UW system school or Wisconsin Technical College up to 128 credits (associate through doctoral degree). $4,000 grant towards Wisconsin private schools (associate through doctoral degree). Up to UW Madison rate ($4,636) (associate through bachelor’s degree).|
|Wyoming||Both||-||-||100%||100% tuition and mandatory fees at public schools. $1,500/semester for private schools. Associate through doctoral degree plus certifications.|