IUP is one of 30 schools selected for the inaugural Pennsylvania National Guard Associations Guard-Friendly School designation.
There were more than 480 education institutions in Pennsylvania that were eligible for recognition.
This recognition was developed by the Pennsylvania National Guard Associations’ (PNGAS) Education Advisory Council, and the standards were designed to recognize colleges, universities and trade schools that met or exceeded 10 baseline criteria.
The criteria included things that created a supportive learning environment to assist members of the Pennsylvania Guard pursuing post-secondary degrees.
IUP’s director of the Military and Veteran’s Resource Center, Cory Shay, attended the recognition celebration Friday.
“It’s such an honor to be recognized by PNGAS as one of the first 30 schools to receive National Guard Friendly School designation,” Shay said. “This award is important because PNGAS recognizes the tremendous work that IUP does to support students who are in the National Guard.
“Since the inception of the Education Assistance Program (EAP), EAP has paid $16 million in education benefits to IUP for National Guard students.
Shay is a member of the NGAS Education Action Council.
The award is merit-based. There were 10 standards that the PNGAS Education Action Council created to measure the services a school provides for National Guard students.
“This means and reiterates IUP’s long history of supporting National Guard students. It also shows future soldiers that IUP will always support their academic and military goals.”
PNGAS is a non-profit organization. It is not associated with or legally connect to the Pennsylvania National Guard, the state or federal government, the U.S. military or the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
PNGAS’s mission is to support all veterans of the National Guard and their families.
Retired Brig. Gen. George Schwartz and chairman of the PNGAS Education Action Council said guardsmen have unique responsibilities that active duty troops and reservists don’t have, creating challenges for them when pursuing a degree.
“These 30 schools have made a deliberate effort to be flexible, accommodating and supportive of Guardsmen-students and are deserving of recognition,” Schwartz said.
The National Guard members receive the benefits through EAP, which pays money to cover a National Guard’s tuition and technology fee.
Recently, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania created the Military and Family Education Program (MFEP), allowing National Guard members who re-enlists for six years to give MFEP to their spouses and children. It also covers the cost of tuition at IUP or any State System university.
In January 2014, IUP opened its Military and Veterans Resource Center. It is a physical space and a system that can coordinate services, information and guidance for military-affiliated students. Workers are students who are veterans or military-affiliated.
IUP has roughly 1,000 students who are active in the military, veterans and military-affiliated. There have been 12 generals who graduated from IUP and one Navy rear admiral.
IUP is known for its ROTC program and has one of the largest ROTC programs in the nation. In May 2015, IUP celebrated its 2,000 commissioned cadets.
IUP’s ROTC has been nationally recognized and was selected for the 2014 MacArthur Award for the top program in the country. They have also won the Governor’s Trophy three times, which is presented to the most outstanding military science program at a Pennsylvania college or university.