OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The governor has signed two bills that he says will make higher education more affordable for members of the Oklahoma National Guard.

Senate Bill 1416 codifies the requirement that all institutions of higher education in Oklahoma are to provide in-state status for current members of the Oklahoma National Guard.

“There is no greater service one can do for their country than volunteering to serve in the military, especially our guardsmen who have full time careers outside of their military service. They’re always ready and willing to step up at a moment’s notice to help their local communities, in other states and around the world when crisis strikes,” Sen. Kim David (R-Porter) said. “We want to show these patriots our appreciation by making a higher education more affordable, helping them further their careers while also making Oklahoma more competitive with neighboring states that are already offering these educational incentives. I’m grateful for my legislative colleagues’ and Governor Stitt’s support of these important measures.”

Senate Bill 1418, which is also known as the Oklahoma National Guard Educational Assistance Act, will cover resident tuition, mandatory fees, and academic service fees in Oklahoma colleges and universities for active guard members.

Members can enroll in up to 18 credit hours per semester, subject to funding availability, with a maximum of 120 credit hours for an associate’s or baccalaureate 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.

Officials say they must sign a contract to complete their current service obligation and serve actively in good standing for not less than 24 months after completing their last semester.

Members must maintain good academic standing, a 2.0 GPA, satisfactory academic progress, and satisfactory participation in the national guard.

If they fail, they must repay a portion of the state assistance they received.

“We’re blessed in Oklahoma to have so many brave men and women willing to voluntarily step up during natural disasters and overseas conflicts. They help restore order and peace during times of crisis, serving as a shining example of the Oklahoma Standard worldwide,” Rep. Nicole Miller (R-Edmond) said. “Helping these heroes further their education is just another way we can show our gratitude for their patriotism, dedication and selflessness.”

Both laws go into effect on July 1.