State lawmakers are fast-tracking extra money to cover tuition costs for Iowa National Guard soldiers who’ve been awarded college tuition assistance from the state. The Iowa Guard cut its “Education Assistance Program” grants by $1,300 for this spring semester.

Representative Royd Chambers of Sheldon is a first sergeant in the Iowa Air Guard and he’s well aware of the problem. “I’m with the 185th (Air Refueling Wing) over in Sioux City and we have a little over 100 people on base that are taking advantage of that and we just had drill last weekend and it was a big topic of discussion, that all the sudden this (grant) has gone to 50 percent,” Chambers says.

“This is going to impact their economic stability, so we want to deal with this in an effective way.” Legislators are tentatively setting aside $1.3-million to provide the full tuition grant. Senator Daryl Beall of Fort Dodge says this tuition assistance helps the Iowa Guard retain its soldiers at a higher rate than many other state units.

“It’s a must do,” Beall says. “We have to take care of these veterans who are returning and so it’s the will of the legislature to make sure we fix that.” Beall is chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Chambers is the chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee in the Iowa House.