Reschenthaler Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Improve College Affordability for Our National Guard and Reserve Servicemembers

June 25, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14) is joining with Congressmen G.T. Thompson (PA-15), Tim Ryan (OH-13), David Trone (MD-06), and Anthony Brown (MD-04) to introduce the Improving College Affordability for Our Guard and Reserve Act. This legislation will provide more educational opportunities for our nation’s National Guardsmen and reserve personnel by allowing them to claim independent student status when applying for federal student aid.


“Our National Guard and reserve servicemembers are an integral part of our nation’s Armed Forces. If these brave men and women can serve in our nation’s military, then they have also earned the right to claim independent student status on their FAFSA application,” said Congressman Guy Reschenthaler. “I am proud to introduce this bipartisan bill to expand their access to federal student aid, which will allow more of our nation’s warfighters to pursue a higher education and achieve their academic goals.”


“Members of the National Guard and reservists are often called upon to serve our country and do so without hesitation,” said Congressman G.T. Thompson. “These brave men and women should have every opportunity to succeed in higher education as their active duty and their veteran counterparts. This is essential for mission readiness and the competitiveness of the nation. I am pleased that we can come together and offer a bipartisan solution. I’d like to thank each of the members who have made this bill possible, especially Rep. Guy Reschenthaler for his leadership on this issue.”


“Our National Guard and Reserve answer the call of duty time and time again to protect and serve the American people, including most recently to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, “ said Congressman Tim Ryan. “We are forever indebted to their commitment and sacrifice. I am proud to introduce this legislation to ensure our Guardsmen and Reservists are provided the student aid they so deeply deserve.” 


"We've seen the heroic efforts of our National Guard on display during the COVID-19 pandemic, where servicemembers have stepped up to help our communities when we needed them most," said Congressman Trone. "These individuals deserve a quality education and the financial resources to help them get there. I'm proud to join in this bipartisan effort to support the men and women of our National Guard and Reserve."


“National Guardsmen and reserve personnel across the country have stepped up to serve our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their service during this time of crisis is indicative of the duty and responsibility to the American people that each of these men and women have sworn an oath to uphold,” said Congressman Anthony Brown. “Opening up new avenues for student aid for the Guard and reserves enhances mission readiness, recruitment and shows our thanks for their sacrifices.” 


"Our citizen-soldiers and airmen are independent enough to sacrifice their time, sweat or blood for their nation, yet our nation doesn't always consider them independent when it comes to their educational benefits," said retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson, NGAUS president. "We thank these representatives for their efforts to correct that oversight and ensure Guardsmen are afforded benefits on an equal footing with their active-duty counterparts."


Specifically, this bill would allow National Guardsmen and reserve personnel under the age of 25 to claim independent student status when applying for federal student aid. Under current law, only active duty servicemembers, veterans, and other individuals with limited circumstances can claim independent student status, which prevents parental income from being used to determine aid amounts when completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).


According to the Defense Manpower Data Center, as of January 2020, there were approximately 211,000 members of the National Guard and reserve components under the age of 25 that did not qualify as a veteran or meet active duty criteria. This bill will expand opportunities so more junior sailors, marines, soldiers, and airmen can receive an education, which is critical for the mission readiness of the Guard and reserves.


The National Guard Association of the United States has endorsed the bill.