RICHMOND, Va. –
Due to a change in state legislation, the Virginia National Guard’s State Tuition Assistance Program, or STAP, will move to a reimbursement model beginning Sept. 15, 2022, with the opening of the application period for the spring 2023 semester. Previously, grants provided under the STAP were paid directly to schools at the start of each semester. Under the new model, students who participate in STAP will be reimbursed following successful completion of their courses at the end of the semester. The change is the next step in the Adjutant General of Virginia’s long-term goal of having the General Assembly approve free tuition at Virginia colleges and universities for Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen.
"We understand moving to the reimbursement model could present challenges to our Soldiers and Airmen, but the new approach to tuition assistance resulted in more money from the General Assembly, makes us better stewards of taxpayer dollars and moves us closer to our goal of free tuition for all Virginia National Guard service members," said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia.
Under the previous program, the Virginia Department of Military Affairs had to expend time and resources seeking reimbursements from students who failed to meet the requirements of the program. While most Soldiers and Airmen met academic standards and fulfilled their service obligations, the reimbursement model means tax dollars are only paid to those who remain in good standing and successfully complete their courses, saving DMA the process of recoupment. The new model aims to increase efficiency and ultimately allow for more Soldiers and Airmen to participate in the program.
As with the previous model, STAP grants are only available for the cost of tuition and Soldiers and Airmen who chose to use the benefit will incur a two year service obligation from the end of the last semester for which they participate in the STAP. STAP grants will provide reimbursement for tuition costs only at approved not-for-profit schools with a physical location in Virginia. STAP grants may be used to complete one degree at each level of study, including an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, graduate degree, or certain licensure or certification programs.
To be eligible to participate in the STAP, students must be active, drilling members of the Virginia Army or Air National Guard and have completed basic training or ROTC Advanced Camp. Students cannot be flagged for any reason, and must have two years remaining on their service contract. Students must also meet the satisfactory academic progress requirements of their institution, including certain grade point average requirements depending on their course of study.
In addition to the change in how STAP grants are paid, the maximum annual grant amount increased from $7,000 to up to $20,000 earlier this year. The total grant amount awarded to each student will vary by year and semester based on the state budget and the number of STAP participants each semester.
The application process for the STAP remains much the same. Students will apply online during the application window, which runs Sept. 15-Nov. 15, 2022, for the upcoming spring semester. Students will be required to self-fund their tuition costs by the date required by their institution and, within 30 days of the end of the semester, must submit a bursar statement or tuition bill along with their grades to the State Education Office. Semester lump-sum payments will be initiated within 30 days of grade submission and students will receive reimbursement via direct deposit.
For more information on the Virginia National Guard’s State Tuition Assistance Program or to apply for this benefit, visit: https://statetuition.vangweb.com/