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Emergency Commission approves more money for National Guard tuition assistance program

The state’s Emergency Commission has given the North Dakota National Guard the okay to add money to its tuition assistance program.

$450,000 will come from the Guard’s own line items. Another $110,000 comes from the state’s contingency fund.

This is due to increased costs in the Guard’s program.  It’s partly driven by higher than expected tuition increases at the state’s colleges and universities, as well as a change in federal policy. Students used to be able to use the G. I. Bill and tuition assistance together – but in 2014, the Defense Department said the programs could only be used one-at-a-time.

The tuition assistance is provided to enlisted Guard members as well as ROTC students.

"There's a lot of angst in the force right now," Adjutant Gen. Alan Dohrmann told the Commission. "While it wasn't an iron-clad promise, that you will have this benefit forevermore, for the last 10 or 15 years, this has been the benefit they're expecting."

Dohrmann told the Commission tuition assistance is the Guard’s number one recruiting tool.

"It's the one tool in the tool kit that can keep us on par, or in some cases, give us a competitive advantage in the region," Dohrmann said. "In the Red River Valley, we're going head-to-head with Minnesota. And if we can't match benefits with Minnesota, we will have a hard time competing in that market."

The proposal has one more hurdle to clear – it will be reviewed by the Legislature’s Budget Section early in December.

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