Franz co-sponsors new law to create Michigan National Guard tuition program

House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee vice chair Ray Franz, second from left, and Rep. Nancy Jenkins, talk with Patrick Lafferty, American Legion Department of Michigan adjutant, and Jason Allen from the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, prior to Gov. Rick Snyder signing House Bill 5451 into Public Act 259 of 2014 to create the tuition assistance program for Michigan National Guard members.

House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee vice chair Ray Franz, second from left, and Rep. Nancy Jenkins, talk with Patrick Lafferty, American Legion Department of Michigan adjutant, and Jason Allen from the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, prior to Gov. Rick Snyder signing House Bill 5451 into Public Act 259 of 2014 to create the tuition assistance program for Michigan National Guard members.

LANSING — Active-service Michigan National Guard members can receive tuition assistance at in-state educational institutions under legislation signed into law this week by Gov. Rick Snyder.

As vice chair of the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, state Rep. Ray Franz co-sponsored House Bill 5451, now Public Act 259 of 2014, to assist students pursuing vocational or technical training, a certificate, associate degree, bachelor’s degree or master’s degree. On Thursday, he attended the bill signing ceremony at the Michigan Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters in Lansing.

“This program is needed to help members of the Michigan National Guard pay for higher education and is a way we can say thanks for their service to our country,” said Franz, R-Onekama. “We are one of the few states that wasn’t offering the benefit and it put us at a competitive disadvantage. Now, more service people will be able to stay here and call Michigan home.”

Also attending the bill signing was Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais, adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard and director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

“Tuition assistance is a tremendous tool for our team and will assist in our efforts to recruit and retain the best and brightest soldiers and airmen,” Vadnais said. “For the Michigan National Guard, this boils down to readiness.”

Eligible educational institutions include public and private colleges, universities, vocational schools, technical schools or trade schools that are located in Michigan. The tuition assistance could also be used for instructional fees, laboratory fees, computer fees and other fees directly related to course work, but does not include the cost of books or study materials.

The program will be administered through the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs by the adjutant general, who would have jurisdiction to approve applications based on eligibility and available funding resources.