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PNGAS Guard-Friendly Schools

Thursday, June 11th 2020


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Developed by the PNGAS Education Advisory Council, the PNGAS Guard-Friendly School standards were designed to recognize colleges, universities, and trade schools that meet or exceed ten (10) baseline criteria that create a supportive learning environment to assist members of the Pennsylvania Guard pursuing post-secondary degrees.

The PNGAS Guard-Friendly School designation logo serves as a beacon and star-rating that promotes the institution to members and veterans of the Guard, their spouses and families, as well as to state leaders, high school and college counselors, citizens and prospective recruits of the Guard.

“Guardsmen have unique responsibilities that active duty troops and reservists do not have, and this creates different challenges for them when pursuing a degree,” stated Brigadier General (Retired) George Schwartz, Chairman of the PNGAS Education Action Council. “These 30 schools have made a deliberate effort to be flexible, accommodating and supportive of Guardsmen-Students and deserving of recognition. The PNGAS Guard Friendly School designation is a win-win!”

For many years, the Education Assistance Program (“EAP”) has been the number #1 recruiting tool for the Pennsylvania National Guard. Since its inception, Pennsylvania has distributed more than $281 Million through the EAP so Guard members can get college, university and trade school degrees. The EAP provides a tuition benefit equivalent to the yearly tuition rate set by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) so that members of the Pennsylvania National Guard can attend one of 488 Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) approved schools. Presently, the EAP is an almost $32,000 tuition benefit for each Guardsman.

With the July 2019 enactment of the Military Family Education Program (MFEP), there is a now a non-lapsing fund providing EAP-like tuition benefits to spouses and children of members of the Pennsylvania National Guard when a Guardsman re-enlists for another 6-year term too. Next year, the MFEP will be an almost $32,000 tuition benefit for spouses and/or children of a Guard member that reenlists for 6-years.

In less than 3 years the EAP and MFEP could exceed $30 million a year in tuition benefits. As state and national emergencies and global warfare become increasingly sophisticated, technology-driven and complex, having a well-trained and educated Guard force is more strategic and valuable than ever.

“We are very confident the designation, PNGAS Guard-Friendly School, will keep producing immediate and long-term benefits and synergies for students, faculty, alumni, PNGAS members, veterans, their families, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its economy,” Kathleen Fabrizi, Executive Director, PNGAS and Pennsylvania National Guard Foundation.

In 2016, to help optimize taxpayer dollars and increase the positive impacts of the EAP program for Guard recruitment and retention, PNGAS started collecting and sharing best practices among K-12, colleges, universities, trade, certification and training schools. PNGAS discovered many examples of inflexible, intolerant and unfair practices against members of the Guard. PNGAS also found that few schools knew how many Guard members even attended their school or how much EAP funding they received on an annual basis. But, by promoting and championing best practices, dozens of schools began improving many aspects of their relationships with members of the Guard and Veterans.

To further their efforts, PNGAS formed the PNGAS Education Action Council (EAC) in 2018, chaired by Brigadier General (Retired) George Schwartz to jumpstart these initiatives. Very quickly the EAC had discussions to define and create an application for the designation of a PNGAS Guard Friendly School. For months, dozens of colleges, universities and trade schools gave edits, insights, commentary and suggestions of the definition and application process for a PNGAS Guard Friendly School designation. Released in April 2019, the PNGAS Guard Friendly School application, designation and logo were designed to showcase and promote the schools that meet and exceed the ten standards adopted by PNGAS.

The PNGAS board approved the 30 self-nominated institutions to be named as 2019-2020 PNGAS Guard-Friendly Schools for the 2019-2020 academic year. Of the more than 480 schools eligible to receive EAP funds, only these schools have earned the right to be designated a PNGAS Guard-Friendly School. In 2020 PNGAS and the EAC are reviewing several additional standards to help more members, veterans and their families get advanced degrees.

Current Guard-Friendly Designated Schools (Updated July 23, 2020)

  • Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
  • Central Penn College
  • Clarion University
  • Community College of Allegheny County
  • DeSales University
  • DeVry University
  • Drexel University
  • East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania
  • Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
  • Grantham University
  • Gwynedd Mercy University
  • HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College
  • Immaculata University
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • Lebanon Valley College
  • Lehigh Carbon Community College
  • Mansfield University of Pennsylvania
  • Montgomery County Community College
  • Moravian College
  • Muhlenberg College
  • Penn State University – School of Public Affairs (Harrisburg)
  • Penn State University (Abington)
  • Penn State University (Beaver)
  • Penn State University (Berks)
  • Penn State University (Greater Allegheny)
  • Penn State University- (Harrisburg)
  • Penn State University (Lehigh Valley)
  • Penn State University (Mont Alto)
  • Penn State University (Schuylkill)
  • Penn State University (Scranton)
  • Penn State University (University Park and World Campus)
  • Penn State University (York)
  • Pennsylvania College of Technology
  • Robert Morris University
  • Saint Joseph’s University
  • Shippensburg University
  • Slippery Rock University
  • Troy University
  • University of Pennsylvania, College of Liberal and Professional Studies
  • University of Pittsburgh at Bradford
  • Valley Forge Military College
  • Villanova University

We welcome all colleges, universities and trade schools to apply for the PNGAS Guard-Friendly Schools designation. The cost is FREE. To learn more contact PNGAS@PNGAS.org and to apply click here: https://forms.gle/r8XjqRNJ9qHDYcSA6

In 2020, PNGAS will launch a separate PNGAS Guard-Friendly School District program for K-12 High Schools and K-12 School Districts. If you want more information on this program, contact PNGAS@PNGAS.org