OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Officials say Oklahoma is leading the nation in National Guard recruitment following a new law.

Senate Bill 1418, also known as the Oklahoma National Guard Educational Assistance Act, provides a tuition waiver for active Guard members to all Oklahoma colleges and universities. It also covers any mandatory and academic service fees.

“We’re so thankful to the men and women of our armed forces, especially those in the Oklahoma National Guard, who volunteer to serve their state and country outside of their normal careers. It takes a lot of courage and patriotism to voluntarily step up in times of crisis to help those in need in our state and around the world,” Sen. Kim David, (R-Porter), said. “This tuition program will help them continue their educations and, ultimately, further their careers and earning potential. We hope this will show these heroes our gratitude and also help encourage members to stay in the guard longer while enticing more citizens to join these outstanding ranks.”

Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino said Guard members are eligible for the program from the day they enlist.

“Since the passage of the Oklahoma National Guard Education Assistance Act, Oklahoma has been the top recruiting Army National Guard state, hitting 108% of our assigned recruiting goal for July,” Mancino said. “In August, we are on track to again be a top recruiting state already having hit 112% of our goal in the first week.” 

Guard members can enroll in up to 18 credit hours per semester with a maximum of 120 credit hours for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, and up to 40 credit hours for a graduate program.

To be eligible, members must have at least one year remaining on their enlistment contract at the beginning of any semester they apply for assistance. They must sign a contract to complete their current service obligation and serve actively in good standing for at least two years after completing their last semester.

Members must maintain good academic standing, a 2.0 G.P.A. and satisfactory academic progress, along with satisfactory participation in the guard. Those who fail to comply with the requirements of the educational program will be required to repay a portion of the state assistance they received.

For more information, contact the Oklahoma National Guard.