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By Don Branum
Vermont National Guard Public Affairs
Staff Sgt. Joseph Poley is expanding his career options thanks to a law passed in May that provides Guardsmen with up to $16,000 in tuition benefits for Vermont state colleges.
Poley, a paralegal NCO with the Vermont National Guard’s Staff Judge Advocate office, said he learned about the new state tuition benefit while discussing financial aid options with Capt. Axel Larson, the Vermont National Guard’s education service officer.
“I was seeing if I had any federal tuition assistance left to get some certificates in cybersecurity, but then I learned about the new program, where I can get my second bachelor’s paid for by the Guard,” said Poley, who earned his first Bachelor of Science degree in sustainable services from Lyndon State College. “I learned more about the program after a yellow ribbon briefing I attended.”
Vermont HR 517, signed into law by Gov. Phil Scott on May 27, provides tuition assistance benefits to any Vermont National Guardsmen in good standing. Service members must complete two years of service in the Guard for each full academic year of tuition.
For those not going to school full-time, the law provides one credit hour for each month of service. Service members must use federal funds before tapping into the state tuition assistance program. More information on state tuition assistance is available at http://www.vtguard.com/education/ under “State Tuition Assistance.”
Poley, who also works for the Department of Homeland Security, is now attending Champlain College online for his cybersecurity degree.
“I worked with Larson to submit my paperwork in time for the Fall ’22 semester,” Poley said. “The process was very quick, easy, and hassle-free.”