Ohio National Guard News

Ohio National Guard Scholarship Program
makes college an affordable pursuit for Guard members

Story by Bill Pierce, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs

Senior Master Sgt. Kari Nettle (center), the state personnel superintendent for the Ohio Air National Guard at Joint Force Headquarters, talks with other Airmen from her office, Jan. 24, 2017, at the Maj. Gen. Robert S. Beightler Armory in Columbus, Ohio. Nettle is one of the thousands of Ohio Guard members who have taken advantage of the Ohio National Guard Scholarship Program. (Bill Pierce, ONG)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (01/30/17) — Since its inception in 1977, the Ohio National Guard Scholarship Program has helped tens of thousands of young people throughout Ohio by paying for their college tuition. Presently, that cost could be anywhere from $4,000 to $14,000 per year, depending on the college or university. Guard members in good standing can get up to 100 percent of their tuition paid for by the program, enabling them to focus entirely on their studies and their future.

Senior Master Sergeant Kari Nettle, state personnel superintendent for the Ohio Air National Guard (ANG) at Joint Force Headquarters in Columbus, said she had no intention of joining the military after high school. In fact, the thought never crossed her mind until the beginning of her sophomore year of college, when she ran into an old high school friend while attending Bowling Green State University. The friend had just returned from boot camp.

“She explained to me all the benefits she was receiving from the Ohio ANG, and within a few weeks, I made an appointment to visit the 179th Airlift Wing in Mansfield, Ohio. The visit went so well, that I ended up joining,” Nettle said. “My plan was to serve six years and get out, never intending to make it a career. However, I ended up loving the Guard and decided to stay in.”

In addition to the scholarship, she also received an enlistment bonus from the military that she used to pay for books and additional expenses. She was receiving military pay for drill weekends and still holding another part-time job, and said she soon realized that her decision to join the Air National Guard was one of the best she had ever made. “Instead of being a poor college student, I was watching my savings account grow,” Nettle said. “All this time I was watching my college friends struggle with their financial issues, and I never had to worry about it.”

It’s been 10 years since Nettle graduated from college but she feels the Ohio National Guard Scholarship Program (ONGSP) is still benefitting her. “I met my husband in the Guard and he also utilized the scholarship program,” Nettle said. “When we got married, we were in a unique situation — neither of us had the overbearing weight of college debt.”

Spc. Michael Greene was already a student at Kent State University when he found out through a recruiting email about the ONGSP. He signed up in the spring of 2016 and is now a tuba player in the Ohio National Guard’s 122nd Army Band.

Greene said that if not for the program, both he and his parents would have had to take out loans to pay for his college tuition. What does he like most about the program?

“There is no credit cap to what is covered each semester. The program pays for eight full semesters (the program actually pays for 96 units and can pay for, but doesn’t always equate to, 8 full semesters). The only thing it doesn’t cover is housing and fees unrelated to tuition,” Greene said. “I like the idea of focusing on my studies and not worrying about paying off student loans once I graduate.”

Greene says that while keeping in good standing with the military and getting good grades in school can be difficult at times, good personal time management and dedication will help make sure all things are accomplished in a satisfactory manner.

“I’ve told almost all of my friends about this program and have convinced a few to look into enlisting with the Ohio Army National Guard because of it,” Greene said.

The ONGSP has been helping Guard members earn an associate or bachelor’s degree for 40 years.
Education benefits are a significant incentive for recruiting and retaining quality Soldiers and Airmen in the organization.

There are two options available for those who decide to take advantage of the scholarship program
(The lifetime maximum is 96 Educational Units, regardless of the number of reenlistments).

  • A 3-year enlistment, with a maximum of 48 Educational Units (two years, full-time), of tuition assistance toward an undergraduate degree at a participating Ohio college or university during enlistment, or

  • A 6-year enlistment with 96 Educational Units (four years, full-time).

Details on the application process.
ONGSP deadlines for various terms throughout the calendar year:

  • Fall Semester/Quarter—July 1

  • Spring Semester/Winter Quarter—Nov. 1

  • Spring Quarter—Feb. 1

  • Summer Semester/Quarter—April 1


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