Monday, the North Dakota Emergency Commission voted in favor of the National Guard’s request for an internal budget line item transfer and an additional request for funding from the State Contingency Fund. These requests help ensure the National Guard can continue to fund its education program that combines state resources with federal programs. The program provides up to $14k for new Guard members and assists with full scholarships for some ROTC cadets.
A number of factors have led to an increased cost to the state tuition assistance program including rising tuition costs, more National Guard members utilizing state tuition assistance, and an interpretation of federal policy. Prior to 2015, the federal tuition assistance and other federal programs like the G.I. Bill could be used simultaneously. However, a 2014 Department of Defense policy interpretation deemed that using these programs concurrently, constituted dual compensation. This meant students could only use one federal education program at a time, resulting in an increased use of state tuition funds.
“The Emergency Commission voted 6-0 to authorize transfer of $450K within the existing National Guard state budget to supplement our tuition assistance program,” said Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, the North Dakota adjutant general. “The commission also approved our request for an additional $110K from the state’s contingency fund. The combination of these funds will enable us to continue assisting with tuition for the 2019 spring semester for our members that qualified for state tuition assistance.”
Tuition assistance is provided to enlisted National Guard members as well as those in the ROTC program. ROTC cadets on scholarship use state tuition assistance to pay tuition costs while receiving federal assistance for books and housing. Due to the higher level of total compensation received, ROTC cadets were advised early in the 2018 fall semester that state funding may not be available for their 2019 spring semester. Simultaneously, the adjutant general began working with the Governor’s Office and the Office of Management and Budget for the emergency commission request presented Monday.