National Guard Benefits: Six Ways Enlisting Can Improve Your Life

National Guard Benefits: Six Ways Enlisting Can Improve Your Life

Founded in 1636, the National Guard is a longstanding reserve of the United States Armed Forces. In return for serving their country, members can expect to receive a myriad of National Guard benefits. This article explains the key ways enlisting in the National Guard can improve your life.

The Guard is usually a part-time job, with members attending training for one weekend per month in addition to one two-week training period each year. This ensures recruits are always ready for deployment while allowing them to spend time at home and pursue studies or a civilian career. Careers are available in areas such as:

  • Admin and relations

  • Aviation

  • Cyber

  • Engineering

  • Ground forces

  • Heavy weapons

  • Intelligence

  • Mechanics and maintenance

  • Medical

  • Special forces

  • Supply and logistics

  • Technology and networking

  • Transport

  • STEM

This range of options means you can find a career you will love, and all come with opportunities to progress. If you’re still not convinced, read on to learn about six major National Guard benefits.


The National Guard is a great choice for those who want to further their education. Not only does the part-time nature of the Guard allow soldiers to commit to their education, but the Guard also offers counseling programs that help soldiers prepare for exams. In addition, there are several options for Guard members to receive financial assistance for their studies.

Federal Tuition Assistance

To help pay for tuition, eligible soldiers can receive up to $250 per semester hour for a maximum of 16 semester hours per fiscal year. This benefit can be used multiple times for one qualification at the associate degree, bachelor’s degree, and master’s degree levels, as long as the college is regionally or nationally accredited and a participant of ArmyIgnitED. In addition, FTA can be combined with the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve program, which offers eligible soldiers in education up to $407 per month for up to 36 months, for the same course if attending at least half-time.

Credentialing Assistance

Outside of degrees, the Army’s Credentialing Assistance (CA) Program provides recruits with funding for more than 1500 credentials, including everything from personal trainer to emergency medical technician certifications. Soldiers can benefit from up to $4,000 a year towards any given credential — although active-duty soldiers studying for aviation credentials are limited to $1,000 a year. One positive about this benefit is that it can be used to cover student expenses such as manuals, study guides, textbooks, processing fees, test fees, related fees for continuing education requirements, and recertification of credentials in addition to tuition.

GI Bill Programs

The Department of Veterans Affairs offers soldiers up to 36 months in any VA educational assistance program as well as up to 48 months of benefits if they’re eligible for more than one program.

The Montgomery GI Bill: Selected Reserve, Chapter 1606 offers soldiers in education up to $407 per month for up to 36 months. This can be combined with the Montgomery GI Bill “Kicker”, an additional payment for education related to specific units, skills, and positions in the Guard. Depending on the field, payments are either $200 or $350 per month. The Post-9/11 GI Bill, Chapter 33 provides eligible soldiers with up to 100% of in-state tuition in public schools or up to $26,042.81 a year in a private or foreign school.

Guard Pay

Once enlisted in the National Guard, you’ll be paid for every day of service, regardless of whether your service is in training, weekend drills, or full deployment. Pay increases with years of service and also depending on your rank, role, and educational level. For example, monthly pay for active duty ranges from $1,602 for an E-1 Private with less than 4 months of service to $16,713 for generals with 40 years of service. The Guard has a useful pay calculator on their website that can give you a detailed view of how much you can earn.


In addition to a competitive salary, soldiers, veterans, and their families can access quality, inexpensive health care through TRICARE and low-cost life insurance that pays out up to $400,000 for a maximum $25 monthly premium.

Eligible soldiers are automatically signed up to ServiceMembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI), a plan that provides 24/7 low-cost coverage. This coverage is still valid for 120 free days after the date you leave the military. A variety of options are available, the most inexpensive of which covers soldiers for $50,000 at just $4 a month.

For the spouses and dependent children of Guard members, the Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) plan provides coverage of up to $100,000 for spouses and $10,000 for dependent children. This ensures that in the most unfortunate unexpected event, you can be assured that your family will be well looked after.

A good health insurance plan is a key benefit to look out for with any job. The National Guard looks after its members by giving them access to TRICARE Reserve Select, a plan that provides comprehensive health coverage for eligible soldiers and their families. This coverage is available worldwide for a competitive monthly premium.


When you retire, you’ll probably want to be able to enjoy the rest of your life comfortably. Whether that involves traveling the world, dining out at a high-end restaurant, or simply being able to furnish your home with all the comforts you need, a career with the National Guard can help provide it. As long as a soldier has at least 20 years of service in the Guard by the time they turn 60, the Guard can keep paying them their usual salary. This is based on serving just one weekend a month, plus an extra 15 days a year for 20 years.

This National Guard benefit is paid to eligible soldiers in addition to any benefits they may have earned from their civilian careers, meaning they could still be in receipt of two incomes throughout retirement. A National Guard career is a sure way to a comfortable retirement.

VA Home Loans

Not only does military service in the Guard help you retire comfortably as a senior, but it can help you live comfortably now. The VA gives Guard members access to home loans that require little or no down payment. This makes it easier for soldiers to acquire a permanent home for themselves and their families.

The loans are provided by private lenders, such as banks and mortgage companies, but are partially guaranteed by the VA. This gives lenders a sense of security that allows them to offer Guard members more attractive terms. From low interest rates to limited closing costs and the lack of a requirement for private mortgage insurance, VA home loans are a major national guard benefit.

In addition to Purchase Loans, which allow soldiers to purchase homes at low interest rates and usually without a down payment, the VA also facilitates Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans, which help Guard members obtain lower interest rates by refinancing their existing VA loan.


As if the pay and all the National Guard benefits we’ve mentioned so far weren’t enough, new recruits may also be eligible for a $20,000 enlistment bonus. This is available to recruits who:

  • Have a high school diploma

  • Score 50 or more on the ASVAB test

  • Commit to at least six years of service

  • Qualify for and select a Critical Skill or Low Density MOS

The National Guard values competent soldiers and has other bonuses up for grabs for exceptional performance. Bonuses increase as you earn promotions and move up through the ranks, giving you even more of an incentive to work hard at your National Guard Career.

Taking The ASVAB

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test is administered to potential recruits to help determine which military jobs they’re best suited for. The test involves General Science, Arithmetic Reasoning, Auto and Shop Information, Word Knowledge, and Paragraph Comprehension, in addition to Mathematics Knowledge, Electronics Information, Mechanical Comprehension, and Assembling Objects. The four main areas form a recruit’s Armed Forces Qualifications Test (AFQT) score, which determines if they can enlist and which jobs they qualify for.

It should come as no surprise, then, that if you want access to all these National Guard benefits, a good score on the ASVAB test is crucial. Not only this, but an accurate score can also be a great tool for more general career planning both within and beyond the National Guard.

If you’re looking to set yourself up for a good life and career with the National Guard, we can help. We provide personalized lesson plans alongside practice tests, flashcards, and comprehensive study guides.

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