Scholarships for Military Service Members and Student Veterans

Veteran scholarships help military students overcome financial challenges to attending college. Find veteran scholarships for college.
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According to a 2020 report from the U.S. Department of Education, there were more than 1.4 million military students enrolled in college in 2015-16. And many student veterans are the first in their families to attend college — in 2018, 62% of veterans were first-generation college students.

Active-duty members of the nation's armed services may take advantage of educational benefits to advance their military career or prepare for life after leaving the service. Veterans — individuals who have completed their active-duty service in the military and received their discharge — often seek a college degree to enhance their employment opportunities as they transition to civilian life.

To help cover the costs of college, many military students use veterans' educational benefits such as the GI Bill®. In the 2015-16 academic year, about 43% of military undergraduates used these benefits. The GI Bill provides 36 months of financial support for tuition and living expenses. This 36-month period is prorated over the course of the academic year, generally amounting to roughly four years of funded postsecondary instruction. However, as military students balance their service or family demands with their education, they may require longer to complete their degree.

Combining support programs like the GI Bill with other military scholarships can help military students achieve their educational goals. Below, you can learn more about active-duty military scholarships, military veteran scholarships, scholarships for veterans with disabilities, military grants, and other resources for military students.

Financial Challenges for Military and Student Veterans

Tuition

Tuition at a public four-year college or university averaged $10,740 in 2020-21, College Board reported. Students attending private or out-of-state colleges often pay much more. Out-of-state tuition at a public four-year school averaged $27,560 per year, while private nonprofit schools charged an average of $38,070 in 2020-21.

The U.S. Department of Education reports only 43% of military students in undergraduate programs used veterans benefits in 2015-16, and 36% of military students enrolled in graduate programs received veterans educational benefits.

School Supplies

The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides an annual stipend of $1,000 to pay for books and supplies. But CollegeBoard found the average full-time student spends $1,298 on textbooks and course materials each year.

In addition, students often need a laptop and other computer equipment. While costs vary according to specific computing needs, many laptops cost between $500 and $1,000. Students will also need a reliable internet connection.

Living Expenses

While veteran educational benefits provide a housing supplement, called the Basic Housing Allowance (BHA), the amount of this payment may vary depending on a student's course load. Veterans may need help with housing expenses during school breaks or if they enroll part time.

Also, the BHA provides benefits based on the school's location, the veteran's military grade, and if they have dependents in their household. Students attending a school fully online, however, qualify for $871 regardless of where they live. Depending on a student's specific situation, this allowance may not be enough to cover their living expenses.

Medical Expenses

Individuals leaving the military may qualify for some medical care through the Veterans Administration, especially for any care related to their military service. However, individuals leaving the military with less than 20 years of service do not qualify for TRICARE insurance coverage. Students who do not hold a full-time job may not qualify for healthcare coverage through an employer.

Although military service members and student veterans often face unique financial challenges, there are numerous scholarships and grants available that can help defray costs. These awards can help these students meet their educational goals.

Scholarships for Veterans and Active-Duty Military

In 2015-16, veterans made up 4.5% of the undergraduate college enrollment, or about 870,000 students. In addition, there were nearly 300,000 active-duty military students and about 30,000 students in the Reserves and National Guard.

Active-duty military students serve full time in one of the U.S. Armed Services branches. Members of all branches can take advantage of the Military Tuition Assistance Program, which covers tuition expenses up to $250 per credit. Reservists and members of the National Guard can also access this program.

Additionally, active-duty military students and veterans can find scholarships to help cover their college costs. College scholarships may target individuals of a specific branch, require an honorable discharge, and/or include additional eligibility requirements.

Pat Tillman Foundation

  • Who Is Eligible?: Active-duty personnel, veterans, and their spouses may apply for this scholarship that honors remarkable service members pursuing an undergraduate, graduate, or professional degree. Applicants who are selected are recognized as "Pat Tillman Scholars" and are invited to professional workshops and trainings. The application includes two essay questions, a character recommendation, and proof of military service. Students must enroll full time in a degree program, and they may have their scholarship renewed if they maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA and other service requirements.
  • Application Deadline: February
  • Scholarship Amount: Averages $10,000

Army Nurse Corps Association Scholarship

  • Who Is Eligible?: The ANCA supports students enrolled in a bachelor's or master's degree in nursing or anesthesia. Applicants must have served in the U.S. Army, Army National Guard, or Army Reserve and must not be presently receiving U.S. Army educational benefits. The scholarship also accepts nursing or anesthesia students whose parent, spouse, or child has served or is currently serving in a U.S. Army branch.
  • Application Deadline: March
  • Scholarship Amount: $3,000

NBCC Foundation Military Scholarship

  • Who Is Eligible?: Service members enrolled in a counseling master's program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs may apply for this scholarship. Veterans or military spouses may also apply. The award includes a commitment to serve military personnel for two years following graduation.
  • Application Deadline: May
  • Scholarship Amount: Up to $8,000

Jack E. Barger, Sr. Memorial Nursing Scholarship Fund

  • Who Is Eligible?: The Nursing Foundation of Pennsylvania administers this scholarship established by the Department of Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars. The scholarship is open to residents of Pennsylvania seeking an undergraduate degree in nursing. Applicants may be actively serving personnel, veterans, military spouses, or children of an eligible service member.
  • Application Deadline: March
  • Scholarship Amount: Varies

U.S. Army Health Care Enlisted Commissioning Program

  • Who Is Eligible?: The U.S. Army offers this program, which helps enlisted active-duty, reserves, and National Guard soldiers interested in nursing attend college full time. The program pays for tuition and books while also paying the soldier their regular salary and maintaining promotion eligibility. Applicants must complete their degree in 24 months and meet the minimum requirements for an Army officer.
  • Application Deadline: August
  • Scholarship Amount: Up to $15,000

Women's Overseas Service League Scholarship

  • Who Is Eligible?: Individuals seeking advancement in the military and public service overseas may apply for this scholarship to be used toward an associate, undergraduate, or graduate degree. Applicants must have completed at least 12 semester credits with a 2.5 GPA. The program allows students to attend school part time, with an option to renew the scholarship for a second year.
  • Application Deadline: March
  • Scholarship Amount: $500-$1,000

AFCEA War Veterans Scholarship

  • Who Is Eligible?: Active-duty personnel, reservists, and National Guard members — as well as honorably discharged veterans — may apply for this award supported by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association. Applicants must also be sophomores or juniors enrolled part time or full time in a STEM program at an accredited four-year college or university. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and have served in an overseas contingency operation from 2003 through the present.
  • Application Deadline: October
  • Scholarship Amount: $2,500

Marines Memorial Tribute Scholarship

  • Who Is Eligible?: Members of the U.S. Armed Forces who ended their active duty or moved to reserve state in the past three years may apply for this scholarship. The program does not specify a major or course of study. Students must attend an accredited nonprofit undergraduate or graduate program as full-time students. The application requires two reference letters, an essay, and transcripts.
  • Application Deadline: April
  • Scholarship Amount: $2,500-$5,000

Education Connection Military Scholarship

  • Who Is Eligible?: Active-duty military members, veterans, and their spouses may apply for this scholarship offered by Education Connection. Applicants must complete a short essay describing how military service prepared them to enhance their education. Awards are determined by writing ability, creativity, originality, and overall excellence. Part-time and full-time students may apply.
  • Application Deadline: September
  • Scholarship Amount: $1,000

AMVETS Scholarship

  • Who Is Eligible?: AMVETS offers a scholarship each year to two veterans, active-duty personnel, or members of the National Guard or Army Reserve. Scholarships consider academic standing and financial need.
  • Application Deadline: April
  • Scholarship Amount: $4,000

Boundless Opportunity

  • Who Is Eligible?: Open to nontraditional college students — including veterans — in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Utah. The Daniels Fund works with specific colleges and universities, which award need-based scholarships to individuals pursuing high-demand careers in specific training programs.
  • Application Deadline: Varies
  • Scholarship Amount: Varies

Fleet Reserve Association Education Foundation Scholarship

  • Who Is Eligible?: Students who are affiliated with the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard may apply for scholarships to attend a college, university, or trade school. The organization considers financial need, the application essay, community activities, and recommendations.
  • Application Deadline: April
  • Scholarship Amount: $5,000

Army Women's Foundation Legacy Scholarship

  • Who Is Eligible?: Women soldiers who have or are serving in the Army, Army Reserves, or Army National Guard — along with their descendants — may apply for scholarships to use toward certification programs, undergraduate degrees, or graduate degrees. Academic requirements include a 2.5 GPA for certificate and community college scholarships and 3.0 for undergraduate and graduate awards.
  • Application Deadline: January
  • Scholarship Amount: $1,000-$3,000

Imagine America's Military Award Program

  • Who Is Eligible?: The Imagine America Foundation designed this program to assist military service members transitioning to civilian life. Applicants must be honorably discharged or retired from any branch of service seeking training through a career college.
  • Application Deadline: Varies
  • Scholarship Amount: $1,000

Wings Over America Scholarships

  • Who Is Eligible?: The Wings Over America Scholarship Foundation awards more than 50 scholarships each year. Eligible applicants include veterans of the U.S. Navy and their children and spouses, as well as active-duty officers or enlisted personnel.
  • Application Deadline: March
  • Scholarship Amount: Average $5,000

Council of College and Military Educators Veteran Scholarship

  • Who Is Eligible?: Veterans and active-duty personnel working toward an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree may apply for one of two types of scholarships. Applicants must have completed at least 12 college credits with a 2.5 GPA or higher.
  • Application Deadline: November
  • Scholarship Amount: $1,000

HotelPlanner.com Graduate Technology Scholarship for Military Families

  • Who Is Eligible?: This scholarship program recognizes 10 students each application cycle. Applicants must seek a graduate degree related to technology. Open to veterans, their spouses, and their dependents.
  • Application Deadline: December and August
  • Scholarship Amount: $1,000

H&P Veterans helping Veterans Scholarships

  • Who Is Eligible?: Hill & Ponton offer four scholarships to veterans pursuing a career in a field that allows them to assist other veterans. The application includes a personal statement and requires verification of service and discharge.
  • Application Deadline: May and November
  • Scholarship Amount: $1,000

VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero

  • Who Is Eligible?: Veterans, active-duty service members, reservists, and members of the National Guard who had or have a rank of E-5 or below may apply for this annual scholarship. The scholarship considers financial need, and students must enroll in a VA-approved school or program.
  • Application Deadline: November and April
  • Scholarship Amount: $5,000

NBC Universal SVA Scholarship

  • Who Is Eligible?: Veterans pursuing a degree related to the entertainment industry may apply for one of two scholarships awarded annually. The application requires a minimum 3.0 GPA, proof of military service, a resume, and transcript.
  • Application Deadline: April
  • Scholarship Amount: $12,000

Scholarships for Veterans With Disabilities

According to theNational Center for Education Statistics, during the 2015-16 academic year, about 26% of undergraduate student veterans reported having a disability. Veterans who suffered an illness or injury connected with their military service may qualify for disability compensation.

This benefit amount can vary depending on the severity of their ongoing medical or mental health conditions. Veterans typically receive a disability rating between 10% and 100% when they leave the service, but they can also apply for benefits if conditions related to their service arise later.

Veterans with disabilities may also qualify for specific scholarships.

Military Order of the Purple Heart Scholarship Program

  • Who Is Eligible?: Military personnel wounded or killed due to enemy action qualify for the Purple Heart medal. Recipients may join the Military Order of the Purple Heart and apply for the annual scholarship program to support undergraduate study.
  • Application Deadline: July
  • Scholarship Amount: Varies

Paralyzed Veterans of America Scholarship Program

  • Who Is Eligible?: Members of the organization, spouses, or unmarried children may apply for this educational award. Organization members must have served in the U.S. armed services and have a spinal cord injury or disease.
  • Application Deadline: March
  • Scholarship Amount: $1,000-$2,500

Medal of Honor and Andrew J. Trail Purple Heart Recipient Tuition Waiver

  • Who Is Eligible?: West Virginia offers free tuition for residents awarded the Purple Heart or Medal of Honor. Students may use the waiver at any West Virginia public postsecondary institution, with up to eight semesters of funding.
  • Application Deadline: Varies
  • Scholarship Amount: Varies

Veterans United Scholarship

  • Who Is Eligible?: Veterans with a 100% service-connected disability qualify for this scholarship. The application includes an essay, evaluation of financial need, and community involvement.
  • Application Deadline: March
  • Scholarship Amount: Varies

CTU Patriot Scholarship

  • Application Deadline: Varies
  • Scholarship Amount: Varies

Braydon and Myrth Fox Scholarship

  • Who Is Eligible?: The Sacramento Region Community Foundation awards this scholarship to veterans seeking to improve their circumstances through continued education. Scholarship guidelines give preference to veterans wounded in action.
  • Application Deadline: May
  • Scholarship Amount: $1,000-$5,000

Indiana Purple Heart Recipient

  • Who Is Eligible?: Indiana residents who received a Purple Heart medal may apply for tuition and fee waivers at public colleges in the state. The waiver covers up to 124 credit hours over eight academic years so long as the student maintains satisfactory academic progress.
  • Application Deadline: Varies
  • Scholarship Amount: Varies

Grants for Military Service Members and Student Veterans

Pell Grant

  • Who Is Eligible?: Undergraduate students may apply for the Pell Grant by completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The U.S. Department of Education determines awards based on financial need
  • Application Deadline: June
  • Grant Amount: Up to $6,495

Post-9/11 GI Bill

  • Who Is Eligible?: Qualifying veterans can receive payment of the full cost of tuition at in-state, public colleges and universities, a monthly housing allowance, and an annual stipend for books and supplies. These benefits do not expire. Veterans may also qualify to transfer unused benefits to a qualified dependent.
  • Application Deadline: Varies
  • Grant Amount: Varies

Helping Heroes Grant

  • Who Is Eligible?: Veterans or members of the Tennessee National Guard called into active service who reside in Tennessee, have been awarded one of several campaign medals, and are enrolling/enrolled at an eligible two- or four-year university may apply for this award (additional eligibility requirements may apply). The grant provides funding for part-time and full-time students at public and private institutions in the state.
  • Application Deadline: May and September
  • Grant Amount: $2,000

Disabled American Veterans Tuition Waiver

  • Who Is Eligible?: Veterans may qualify for a tuition waiver at Rhode Island public universities if they are a permanent resident in the state and have a service-connected disability. The grant waives tuition and fees not covered by other financial awards.
  • Application Deadline: Varies
  • Grant Amount: Varies

Additional Financial Resources for Military and Student Veterans

The VA manages veteran educational programs, including the GI Bill®. Find out what benefits you qualify for and how to apply for education and training benefits. In addition to the GI Bill, you may qualify for Veteran Readiness and Employment programs. The VA also offers career counseling in addition to a host of other financial assistance programs. The U.S. Department of Education gathered several resources on financial aid opportunities for military students and their families. Military service may qualify individuals for additional federal financial aid through the Federal Pell Grant and the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. The GI Bill caps tuition awards at private schools at a little over $26,000 for the 2021-22 school year. Schools may agree to waive a portion of the remaining cost for veteran students under this program through the VA. The VA works with schools to offer services that help veterans succeed in the classroom. Counselors may also assist veterans with applying for healthcare benefits, accessing mental health services, or finding appropriate housing. Military students bring a wealth of experience to the classroom. Prior learning assessments allow schools to award academic credit for that knowledge and experience, reducing the number of credits necessary for graduation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Scholarships for Military and Student Veterans

Can active-duty military fill out the FAFSA?

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Yes. All prospective college students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year. It's free to complete the FAFSA. The information helps the U.S. Department of Education and your school determine how much financial assistance you need to afford college. You can file your FAFSA beginning Oct. 1 each year. Filing early helps secure financial awards available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Under federal rules, active-duty members of the military and veterans qualify as independent students, even if they are not yet 24 years old. You do not need to include your parent's financial information.

Is college free for active-duty military?

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Active-duty military may qualify for tuition assistance to take college courses. The program caps benefits at $250 per credit hour, up to $4,500 each year, and does not cover books. Students must complete the course with a passing grade or repay any tuition assistance paid on their behalf. The program also will not cover courses students have taken in the past.

You may also be able to find a scholarship that will pay for college, depending on your area of study and your service branch. The U.S. Air Force, for example, offers several healthcare professionals scholarships that cover tuition, books, and a living allowance.

What is a military grant?

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Military grants provide students with financial assistance to pay for school without requiring that money to be paid back. The Federal Pell Grant offers up to $6,495 in federal education assistance for students with financial need. States, individual schools, and nonprofit organizations may also offer grants.

Military grant programs require a student to be an active or former member of the U.S. Armed Services or be a dependent or spouse of military personnel. These financial programs may include monetary awards or tuition waivers that reduce educational costs, such as the Illinois National Guard Grant Program, which provides four years of tuition at eligible schools.

Does the military pay for private schools?

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You can use military educational benefits at public or private colleges and universities, but the benefits may not cover the total cost of tuition. The GI Bill caps payments to private or foreign schools at around $26,000 for the 2021-22 academic year. Tuition assistance caps payments at $250 per credit and up to $4,500 per year.

Colleges and universities may take part in the Yellow Ribbon program. Under this voluntary program, schools agree to contribute a portion of the additional cost. Schools may cap participation in the Yellow Ribbon program, so be sure to apply early if you plan to enroll in a private school or out-of-state college.

Do dependents of veterans with disabilities get college benefits?

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Yes, several programs provide college benefits for the dependents of veterans with disabilities. Benefits include federal education benefits through the Veterans Administration, state grants and tuition waivers, and veteran scholarships offered by nonprofit organizations.

The Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance program through the VA provides educational benefits to the children of veterans with a service-connected disability or who died on active duty. Children generally must use benefits before they turn 26. The program covers undergraduate and graduate programs, career training, and apprenticeships.

The Alabama G.I. Dependent Scholarship Program offers five years of college study to children and dependents of veterans who have a disability rating of 40% or higher (exceptions apply). Students must pursue an undergraduate degree at a state school and be a resident of the state.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at https://benefits.va.gov/gibill/index.asp.


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