By: James Carskadon
Mississippi State University and the Mississippi National Guard announced a new program Tuesday [Aug. 7] that will ensure free tuition for Mississippi National Guard service members enrolled full-time at MSU.
MSU President Mark E. Keenum and Maj. Gen. Janson D. “Durr” Boyles, Adjutant General of Mississippi, both signed a memorandum of agreement establishing the Bulldog Free Tuition program during a ceremony at MSU’s G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans at Nusz Hall. The Bulldog Free Tuition Program builds on current National Guard education benefits to create a unique opportunity for eligible Mississippi Air and Army National Guard service members.
“Readiness is our force’s top priority and this tuition program will help to attract personnel who will staff our future state and federal missions,” Boyles said. “The students receiving this tuition benefit will contribute tremendously towards our preparedness and be among those ready to answer the call during state emergencies and overseas contingency operations.”
“We have a long, proud history as one of the nation’s most military-friendly college campuses,” Keenum said. “Among our alumni are the late U.S. Sen. John C. Stennis, father of the modern nuclear Navy, and the late U.S. Rep. G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery, author of the modern G.I. Bill. This innovative tuition program we launch today with the Mississippi National Guard continues MSU’s pro-soldier legacy and directly invests in those brave, bright men and women who serve and protect our great nation.”
Over 12,000 service members are in the Mississippi Army and Air National Guard’s ranks. For the Guard, higher education is a critical component of efforts to improve service members’ ability to solve complex problems at home and abroad. While the National Guard has a beneficial tuition program for eligible service members at all Mississippi colleges and universities, MSU support through the Bulldog Free Tuition program will make MSU the only state university where Mississippi National Guard soldiers can attend college without paying tuition.
To be eligible for the Bulldog Free Tuition program, service members must be full-time undergraduate students, in good standing with their unit and cannot be within a year of their expiration of term of service.
Through its Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans and university faculty and staff, MSU supports National Guard service members as they navigate classes, basic training, drill and deployments. Approximately 650 U.S. Armed Forces veterans and service members attend MSU, a population that increases to more than 2,600 when including dependents.
MSU is nationally recognized for its support of veterans, service members and their dependents. In 2015, MSU was designated as a “Purple Heart University” by the Military Order of the Purple Heart for its support of the military community. For more on MSU’s services available to veterans, service members and their dependents, visit www.veterans.msstate.edu.
The Mississippi National Guard is a relevant and ready force that stands ready to deploy for any contingency in Mississippi and overseas. Since 9/11, the force has one Silver Star recipient and approximately 1,400 Bronze Stars have been awarded to its Soldiers and Airmen. For more information, contact Col. Rodney Harris at 601-313-6215.