When I joined the Iowa Army National Guard back in 1989 with the G.I. Bill, signing bonus, and the tuition reimbursement it was possible to have most of one’s tuition covered at a public university. Education assistance was one of the top reasons I decided to join. I enrolled at Drake University in 1990, and it made a significant dent then.
That was 1990. College tuition, even at Iowa’s public universities, increases every year, but the rate of tuition reimbursement for Iowa’s National Guardsmen has not. Actually, it is getting cut. The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that a memo sent by Major General Timothy Orr, the state’s Adjutant General, said the Iowa National Guard will reduce the maximum award from 90% to 50% – from a maximum payment of almost $2900 per semester to $1600.
Considering how often our Guardsmen have been called on to serve overseas, in harm’s way, and in times of natural disasters at home it is appalling that these funds are being cut now. Especially in light of the tuition hikes. This is also a broken promise to those who enlisted with the knowledge they would have significant help with college tuition.
There are plenty of places to cut within the state budget, this is not one of them. Governor Branstad and the Iowa Legislature need to do right by these soldiers and airmen and make sure this program stays fully funded, they deserve nothing less.