Texas National Guard cuts tuition benefits in order to pay for increased role securing border

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 8:48 PM CDT
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - The Texas National Guard is increasing resources and troops at the U.S.-Mexico border while it participates in Operation Lone Star, but it’s coming at a price.

The state cut its tuition assistance budget in half to comply with a state mandated budget reduction.

Army and National Guard Veteran Jeffrey Yarvis said the educational benefits that help enlisted service members can play a factor in recruiting, but the state’s recent cuts could turn them to other branches.

“If you’re a full-time student or a parent trying to raise kids and do this part-time, maybe this wouldn’t be very appealing,” he said. “So, it really depends on how they want to characterize their service.”

To afford more resources towards Operation Lone Star, the state national guard cut its $3 million tuition assistance budget by 54 percent. That means there is only $1.4 million to use in tuition benefits to fund awards of $1,000 to the guard’s more than 20,000 troops.

Originally, soldiers were receiving around $4,500 in tuition assistance per semester.

Business experts like Ankita Singhvi says this change may not last very long. “They could increase the hourly pay of the workers,” she said.

“It sounds like they don’t have the money to keep the benefits going, but they do have enough to pay everyone a little bit more. That could keep them motivated.”

Regardless, Yarvis says returning the benefits would be in the best interest of the Texas National Guard moving forward.

“It would really be extraordinary for me to see this become a permanent thing,” he said.

“Maybe the leadership is thinking if they’re willing to risk this for an operational priority, then when they satisfy the mission, they’ll go back and reevaluate providing the benefits.”

The Texas Military Department reports that it will continue to assess and advocate for benefit programs as it prepares requests for the next legislative session.

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