TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jim Beach that would extend tuition benefits to reservists in the U.S. military was approved yesterday by the Senate.
The bill (S3021) would change current law to include reservists as recipients of tuition benefits at a public higher education institution in New Jersey. These benefits would include receiving up to 16 credits per semester of tuition for free and provides tuition benefits to a child or surviving spouse of a member of the reserve who is killed while on active duty and who is a resident of the state. Currently, members of the New Jersey National Guard receive these benefits.
“Currently, financial assistance to enroll in one of the state’s higher education institutions is provided to members of the New Jersey National Guard. It only makes sense that we grant college tuition benefits to reservists, equal to other military personnel. This is a benefit they earned and deserve. It will give them the opportunity to further their career and education goals without having to shoulder the burden of excessive loan debt, that could prevent them from pursuing higher education,” said Senator Beach (D-Burlington/Camden).
Under the legislation, a member of the reserve who is a resident of New Jersey would be eligible for the benefits. The reserve components of the Armed Forces of the United States include the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Reserve, Air Force Reserve, and Coast Guard Reserve.
“The financial strain brought on by high tuition costs could force some reservists to forego college,” added SenatorBeach. “Making financial assistance available to these individuals, and expanding benefits to family members of reservists who have made the ultimate sacrifice while on active duty, is the right thing to do. It will better ensure that college is affordable and accessible to both members and their families, aiding those who have pledged to protect us and their loved ones.”
The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 37-0. It next heads to the Assembly for consideration