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LAO Recommends Ending College Grant Program For CA National Guard And Reserve

The Legislative Analyst’s Office is advising the state legislature to not renew a college grant program for California National Guard and State Military Reserve soldiers when it expires in 2019.

The LAO report, released Tuesday, said the California Education Assistance Award Program isn't worth continuing because it has failed to achieve its goal of improving retention rates and because it can't verify whether it's meeting its goal of increasing college enrollment among Guard and Reserve members.

Each year the Assistance Award Program - which is separate from the federal Post-9/11 G.I. Bill - provides grants of anywhere from about $1,000 to $10,000 to several hundred Guardsmen and members of the State Military Reserve, according to the LAO. The program has an annual budget of $2.6 million.

The initiative provides funding to help Guard and Reserve soldiers pay for private universities, community and state colleges, and UC schools.

While the Assistance Award Program is supposed to help retain more soldiers in both organizations, the LAO found that retention rates are slightly lower for soldiers using the program than for those who did not.

The LAO report also found that the state doesn’t track enrollment rates among program participants, so there’s no way to know if it’s succeeding on that front.

The chair and vice chair of the State Assembly's Committee on Veterans Affairs were unavailable for comment.

Veterans and Military Issues Reporter