National Guard Deserves Independent Student Status
Sgt. Ryan Hawley, student, 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, Colorado National Guard, climbs the mountain at Smugglers' Notch in Jeffersonville, Vt., Feb. 18, 2016. The Mountain Walk is a culminating event for basic and advanced mountain warfare students to use the skills taught at the Mountain Warfare School. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Rivard)

National Guard Deserves Independent Student Status

Members of the National Guard under the age of 25 can often be disqualified from receiving grants and financial aid because they are not considered independent students.

Many states have grant programs for members of the National Guard that cover the cost of postsecondary education through a combination of state-level programs and federal aid, which requires Servicemembers to fill out a FAFSA form. A guardian signature is needed to complete a FAFSA form if an individual is under the age of 25. Active duty military under 25 don’t need guardian signatures to complete the form, as they’re considered independent students under 20 USC § 1087vv. Members of the National Guard and Reserve component, however, are not considered active duty while on state-level activation, Title 32 orders, and therefore, if they are under the age of 25, are not considered independent students. This specification disqualifies members of the National Guard that are estranged from their legal guardians from applying for state and federal financial aid programs for which they are otherwise eligible.

We recommend that 20 USC § 1087vv is amended to include those under a Reserve Component military contract with active or inactive statuses to ensure that all members of the National Guard have access to the benefits they deserve.

Read our White Paper on the issue!