SILVIS – Governor Pat Quinn today visited Hero Street in Silvis to sign two new laws that improve educational opportunities for Illinois veterans. The laws extend National Guard tuition waivers and allow students using their GI Bill of Rights benefits to be billed for tuition as in-state students. Today’s actions are part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to serve those who have served our country.
“The men and women of our National Guard are valuable members of any campus community,” Governor Quinn said. “These new laws will put more National Guard members in the classroom and are an easy way for the people of Illinois to say ‘thank you.’ Here on Hero Street, which has sent more than 100 residents into military service since World War II, and in every community in Illinois, we want to help our veterans and improve their lives.”
"The Illinois National Guard grant is a great incentive for our Soldiers and Airmen to remain in the military,” Illinois National Guard Adjutant General Brig. Gen. Daniel Krumrei said, “Now our experienced Illinois Guardsmen can earn two more years of education after ten years of service, which will ultimately enhance their value to their community, employer and overall military service."
Under Senate Bill 2229, sponsored by State Senator Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign) and State Representative Deborah Conroy (D-Villa Park), anyone with at least 10 years of service in the Illinois National Guard will be eligible for six years of tuition waivers instead of the current maximum of four years. This recognizes the fact that older service members may take a longer time to complete their studies. The new waiver takes effect in the upcoming 2013-2014 school year.
“By furthering their education, National Guard members can advance their own careers while using the knowledge they’ve gained to better serve our state,” Senator Frerichs said.
First created in 1976, the Illinois National Guard Grant Program is administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. During the 2011-2012 school year, 1,978 National Guard members took advantage of the grant program, with 804 attending a state university and 1,174 attending a community college. Illinois National Guard members should contact their college financial aid office to determine what portion of their total tuition and fees will be covered by the grant.
Governor Quinn today also signed House Bill 2353, which allows students using their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to be billed as in-state students for the purpose of tuition. The benefit only applies state-supported institutions of higher learning in Illinois. The law is effective immediately.