National Guard helps students receive graduate without debt

Abby Fisher

Free college? For many, it sounds too good to be true, but members of the Army National Guard will graduate debt free.

Giving students full tuition for state-funded universities in Ohio is just one of the incentives the National Guard offers.

“Most of the people who come into our office are college students,” said Brian Porter, National Guard Liaison at Kent State.

Porter said the part-time organization’s primary mission is to get enlisted students to graduate with a degree.

Before joining the National Guard, students will complete advanced individual training that will prepare them for their jobs in the service.

“After that, service requirements are one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer,” Porter said.

While not officially affiliated with Army ROTC on campus, the National Guard does offer ROTC cadets and soldiers who are enlisted in the National Guard a simultaneous membership program.

Students in the program must be juniors or seniors and are non-deployable while they are in college, Porter explained.

Don Meyer, National Guard Liaison at Kent State, said soldiers who apply for a particular job with the National Guard are guaranteed to get it.

“That’s one of the differences in the National Guard,” Meyer said. “You get to choose what you want to do, and serve your country at the same time.”

Service is one of the reasons Meyer returned to the military. Meyer, who was in the Army for 10 years, returned because he wanted to give back to the country.

“I still get goose bumps every time I hear the national anthem,” he said.

Part of Meyer’s duties as a National Guard liaison is to tell interested students about the National Guard. “It’s not hard to sell free tuition,” Porter said. “We also have a certain amount of money we hand out to soldiers each month.”

The National Guard also helps students with loan payments and will provide up to 75 percent tuition for graduate school.

Once students in the National Guard receive their degrees, they will serve approximately three to six years.

Freshman nursing major Amanda Perfetto recently joined the National Guard after she came to Kent State.

“I joined because I didn’t want to be deployed,” Perfetto said. “And I was really interested once I heard about all the benefits.”

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Contact ROTC and College of Architecture and Environmental Design reporter Abby Fisher at [email protected].