CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The West Virginia National Guard will be increasing its Educational Encouragement program cap to $9,000 a year. That’s a $2,000 increase for service members currently pursuing their secondary education at an approved West Virginia Institution.

The program has been offered for guard members since 1977. Leaders say this is just one way to encourage people to get more members enrolled.

“It’s not just state tuition assistance, we have federal tuition assistance as well. There’s just a number of different educational opportunities available to the service members, and this isn’t just for folks who want to go to college. If they want to do a trade, if they want to get a certification of some kind, we work with them to also allow that kind of a program to happen,” says Maj. Gen. William Crane.

The WVNG’s Educational Encouragement Program (WVEEP) has been offering the benefit of up to 100% of college tuition and allowable fees for service members since its establishment in 1977.

Crane says the WVNG has been looking since 2020 to evaluate tuition assistance and provide a recommendation on increases to ensure guard members adequate access to higher education.

“With rising inflation, cost of living, and higher education expenses increasing, we knew it was something we had to get after,” Crane said. “We wanted to ensure it was done right with the correct data to provide a clear picture of the need for our members, especially during such a tumultuous time for education during the pandemic and as the life began to return to a semblance of normalcy.”

Eligible programs where WVNG service members can use this benefit include bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, certain certifications, and aviation. Also, two service members a year may be authorized to use this benefit in pursuit of a medical degree.