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Cooperative efforts between colleges and the New York National Guard continue to grow, with 1,600 Guard members scheduled to take advantage of tuition-free studies this fall.

A recruiting tool for the Guard and an enrollment and revenue-enhancing aid for colleges, the program provides free tuition at State University and City University of New York campuses, or the equivalent of $3,400 in tuition aid annually at private colleges.

This spring, program enrollment included 1,007 full-time and 347 part-time National Guard and New York Naval Militia students, more than 70 percent of them in state university or CUNY facilities.

Guard officials noted that 22 percent of those enrolled are from minority households, and that the program has helped the military recruit new personnel who score well above average in Armed Forces entrance aptitude exams.

"It is clear that the original intents of the bill, to provide ready (educational) access to enlisted members while bolstering personnel strength and enhancing National Guard training and readiness, have exceeded expectations," said Maj. Gen. Jack Fenimore, "and the trend continues upward."

The second anniversary of the Tuition Incentive Program's signing into law will be marked with ceremonies Friday in Albany.

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