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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 3, 2004

Gov. Blagojevich signs bill to expand education opportunities for National Guard members
New law expands eligibility criteria for Illinois National Guard grant program

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation increasing education opportunities for Illinois National Guard members.  Senate Bill 2755 expands eligibility criteria for the Illinois National Guard grant program.
 
“Many men and women join the Illinois National Guard for education benefits,” said Gov. Blagojevich.  “It’s our job to make sure they are able to take full advantage of that benefit.  By signing this law and expanding eligibility criteria, more people will be able to get their degrees.”
 
The Illinois National Guard grant program provides for tuition and fees for the equivalent of four years of full-time enrollment.  Currently, guard members can only use the grant as long as they are active duty members of the guard.  The new law, sponsored by Sen. John Sullivan (D-Quincy) and Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora), allows guard members who are currently enrolled in a course of study and have served at least five years with a cumulative total of six months on active duty to be eligible for a grant for a up to one year after their guard membership ends.
 
“This legislation will help a number of National Guard members complete their college degrees,” said Sen. Sullivan.  “The state should help the men and women who have served their country as much as we can.” 
 
“One of the greatest benefits of membership in the Illinois National Guard is free tuition at Illinois public universities,” said Brig. Gen. Randal Thomas, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard.  “This legislation provides even greater opportunity for members to complete their degree.”
 
Illinois Guard members enrolled in a higher education program at an eligible higher education institution can use the expanded tuition grant benefit provided under SB 2755 for the upcoming Fall semester.
 


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