Gov. Wolf Makes History by Signing PA GI Bill

On Veterans Day, we remember how much military service members sacrifice for the rest of us. Last week, Gov. Wolf gathered with military members and lawmakers to thank them for this sacrifice with the Military Family Education Program—or PA GI Bill—signed into law last July.

The program provides up to 10 semesters of tuition-free higher education for spouses and children of Pennsylvania National Guard members who commit to an additional six years of service. Sign-up began Oct. 29 and 20 families have already enrolled.

Up to 8,000 military family members could benefit from the PA GI Bill. Wolf enthusiastically touted the merit of extending scholarships to spouses and children of servicemembers.

This program will allow us to recognize military members and their families for their sacrifice by providing them with up to five years of college at no or reduced cost. Think of what a difference this program will make to the lives of our military families. As Pennsylvanians, the least we can do to thank these military families is to ease the burden of paying for education. I encourage all eligible Guard members to enroll today.

Now, Wolf should keep making history for servicemembers’ families. Five years of college will make a huge difference—but access to quality K-12 is arguably even more important.

Rep. Andrew Lewis has introduced a bill that will make military families’ lives easier by making their education more flexible. His proposal would create Military Education Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) that enable these families to use education funds as needed for their specific situation. House Bill 1296 would also provide ESAs for children whose parents were killed in the line of duty.

Rep. Lewis knows a thing or two about military life. He’s a 10-year army combat veteran with multiple tours, and a father of three. Now he’s ready for Pennsylvania to continue making history for his fellow servicemembers. If enacted, his plan would be the first of its kind in the nation.


Frequent reassignments bring dramatic changes and an unpredictable education environment for students. A parent-controlled, state-administered ESA is the best means to ensure parents can choose what school best fits their child’s needs wherever they are stationed.

Rep. Andrew Lewis

Pennsylvania has five military bases and 2,552 active duty military personnel, with an estimated 1,263 school-age children of active duty military parents. Servicemembers regularly face the stress of getting orders to a new duty station and figuring out where to send their kids to school and how to pay for it. Rep. Lewis’ plan would ease their difficulty and their financial burden.

As Gov. Wolf said, “the least we can do to thank these military families is to ease the burden of paying for education.” Expanding military tuition programs to the families of those who sacrifice is one more way for “us civilians to say ‘Thank you for your service’.”

Now let’s enlarge that “thank you” by offering military families access to a quality K-12 education that prepares their children for college and future success. House Bill 1296 is the least we can do for Pennsylvanians putting their lives on the line.