Date of Graduation

12-2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Graduate School

Advisor

Michael T. Miller

Committee Member

G. David Gearhart

Second Committee Member

Andrew J. Dowdle

Keywords

Arkansas National Guard, Guardsmen college access, Guardsmen education, military recruitment, National Guard benefits

Abstract

The Arkansas National Guard Tuition Assistance (NGTA) program was created to recruit and retain Arkansas National Guardsmen by providing college funding regardless of Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test scores. The funding provided up to 100% of tuition costs at any Arkansas public college or university and was effective between Fall 2017 to Fall 2019. The approval process included collaboration between the Arkansas National Guard Education Office, the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, and the institution of higher education Guardsmen attended.

The study focused on the effects the NGTA had on Guardsmen who attended the University of Arkansas during the implementation period. The study used a two-step process for data collection, a quantitative approach to capture Guardsmen characteristics and qualitative to obtain Guardsmen perceptions of the program. The data analysis provided Guardsmen characteristics and themes describing Guardsmen perceptions.

The results of the study indicated that the NGTA was a deciding factor to enlist in the Arkansas National Guard. Of the 286 times the benefit was awarded, 146 received full tuition aid while the rest receive partial or no NGTA funding. Guardsmen approved for the benefit used other types of funding such as grants, scholarships, and student loans. Of the Guardsmen who participated in the survey study, responses indicated that students expected full-tuition payment and although most Guardsmen stated that the NGTA met their expectations, some felt that the program was unclear in the actual amount that would be provided.

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