Veterans looking to continue their education and further their careers have many options for scholarships and financial aid.
When active military personnel and veterans apply for federal financial aid, they also become eligible for a variety of loans, grants, and scholarships. These funding sources can be used to pay tuition and fees, book and supply costs, and even living expenses, depending on the source. Loans must be repaid, but grants and scholarships do not.
Current and former members of the military and their families can also receive educational funding through the GI Bill®, earn academic credit for previous training, and participate in supplemental tuition assistance programs. This guide explores financial options for veterans.
Active-duty military members and veterans have access to various discounts, medical and death benefits, and assistance in obtaining mortgages, insurance, and caregiver support. Current and former service members can also access educational benefits through the GI Bill® and comparable tuition assistance programs.
Additionally, service members may be eligible for assistance through college loan repayment or student loan deferment programs. In the United States, universities often offer tuition discounts for active-duty members of the military and veterans. These discounts may also apply to spouses and dependents of current or former military members.
The Importance of Grants and Scholarships
Grants and scholarships supplement student loans and federal financial aid. As student-loan debt continues to increase around the United States, billions of dollars in grant and scholarship money go unclaimed each year.
Grants and scholarships can lower dependence on loans.
While loans are a fundamental resource for college and university learners, they often come with conditions. Subsidized loans do not accrue interest while students are enrolled, but they begin to do so after graduation, increasing the amount students must repay as time goes on. Unsubsidized loans accrue interest from the time they are disbursed, regardless of enrollment status. All loans require repayment, unless you qualify for a federal loan forgiveness program.
However, grants and scholarships can lower dependence on loans. College and university students do not have to repay grants or scholarships, though they sometimes have to meet specific requirements to maintain eligibility, like keeping grades above a certain GPA. Participation in grant-related programs or regular check-ins with a scholarship committee create a sense of accountability and incentivize positive performance.
Finding and Applying to Scholarships
First-generation college students who have served in the military can apply for scholarships available to first-time enrollees. Scholarships for disabled veterans, members of minority groups, and veterans who served in a specific branch of the armed forces offer additional funding opportunities.
Many private companies and community organizations also offer scholarships for veterans. State, local, and school-specific programs for veterans provide another avenue for scholarships and grants. Veterans can apply for scholarships and grants based on their field of study, degree level, and future professional goals. For the latter, students may need to agree to work within specific settings after graduation as a condition of the grant or scholarship.
Spouses and dependents of active-duty or retired military personnel can often access scholarship and grant options, as well. Many of these programs support wives, husbands, children, and grandchildren of living or deceased military members.
Where To Look
Veterans can access information about scholarships through college and university financial aid and admissions offices, which usually have abundance resources about funding opportunities. Learners should also contact specific departments to see if discipline-specific scholarships are available.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also offers comprehensive information on education and training benefits available to veterans. Many websites offer databases of scholarship options, which users can filter to find financial aid opportunities to specific to their personal situations. Scholarship indices and websites for individual branches of the armed forces also offer valuable resources.
How To Apply
Application requirements and processes vary by grant and scholarship program. Students should apply to as many scholarships as possible, paying attention to due dates and award announcements.
Most veteran scholarships require applicants to submit transcripts from previous college coursework, documentation of military service, and any training materials completed while in the military.
Scholarships usually have a written component as well, in the form of a formal essay or personal statement. Some schools may include specific essay prompts, while others require a personal essay, which involves an open and honest discussion of what the applicant hopes to get out of their studies.
Additional requirements usually include letters of recommendation and a resume. Students should prepare materials well in advance, contacting potential letter writers and references to ensure their support and availability.
Some scholarships stipulate how learners can apply funding, limiting it to covering tuition, fees, or education-related costs. Others have broader criteria, allowing awardees to apply funds toward housing or living expenses.
Eligibility requirements, deadlines, award amounts, and renewal options all factor into the scholarship application process. The list of popular military and veteran scholarships below offers a starting point for finding available funding opportunities. Students can also benefit from additional research into veteran scholarships that meet their specific needs and circumstances.
AFCEA War Veterans Scholarship $2,500
Available to undergraduate students on active military duty or honorably discharged veterans, the AFCEA War Veterans Scholarship supports students majoring in STEM fields at accredited colleges and universities. Both online and distance-learning programs are eligible.
Awardees can only use funds on tuition and course-related expenses. To apply, each candidate must submit a transcript, two letters of recommendation, documentation of military service, and a personal statement.
AMVETS Scholarship Varies
Lowe's Companies, Inc., awards these scholarships to student veterans and their spouses using funding from AMVETS. The Generation T Scholarship supports student veterans and their spouses enrolled in skilled trade programs, while the technology scholarships fund computer science enrollees.
AMVET's National Scholarship awards learners studying full time in undergraduate, graduate, or certificate programs. Lowes and AMVET award all scholarships, including additional memorial programs, based on academic promise and financial need.
Army Nurse Corps Association Scholarship $3,000
|About||The Army Nurse Corps Association scholarship supports students earning degrees in nursing without funding from any component of the U.S. Army. Learners enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs in nursing or nurse anesthesia may apply. Eligibility extends to the children, spouses, and parents of service members in the U.S. Army.|
Bonsai Finance Veterans Scholarship $1,000
Founded by Britton Smith, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Bonsai Finance offers a one-time award to active-duty military personnel, veterans, and their dependents. Applicants must not hold previously earned bachelor's degrees.
Recipients can apply funds toward current or future educational expenses. Bonsai distributes awards based on responses to essay prompts.
Boundless Opportunity Scholarship Varies
|About||The Boundless Opportunity Scholarship supports learners with funds for tuition, fees, room and board, and indirect educational expenses. Applicants must enroll in undergraduate programs at participating schools in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, or Wyoming. Eligible individuals include adults entering or returning to college, veterans, former foster care youth, and GED certificate recipients.|
CTU Patriot Scholarship Varies
CTU awards 50 Patriot Scholarships each year to eligible wounded service members, their spouses, nonmedical attendants or caregivers, and dependents. Patriot Scholarships support individuals injured while serving in the armed forces and apply to online degrees or on-campus programs at one of CTU's campuses in Colorado Springs or Aurora, Colorado.
Each awardee also receives a laptop computer, textbooks, and access to educational advisors and technical support.
Dr. Aurelio M. Caccomo Family Foundation Memorial Scholarship $12,000
Awarded through AMVETS, the Dr. Aurelio M. Caccomo Family Foundation Memorial Scholarship honors its namesake with annual funding. Caccomo served in the U.S. Army as an immigrant, before becoming a physician and orthopedic surgeon.
Active-duty service members and veterans can apply. Recipients must demonstrate financial need, enroll in eligible programs, and agree to publicize their awards.
Dr. Robert W. and Jean L. Sheldon Scholarship Varies
Established to honor local physician Robert W. Sheldon and his wife Jean, this scholarship provides financial support for transfer students from Bakersfield College enrolled at California State University Bakersfield. Eligible individuals need a minimum 2.5 GPA.
Applicants must provide evidence of campus and community involvement, financial need, and work experience. The scholarship is awarded to one nursing student and one veteran each year.
Ed “Chief” Parsons Memorial Scholarship $1,000
Open to residents of Burlington County, New Jersey, the Ed "Chief" Parsons Memorial Scholarship supports students enrolled in junior colleges, technical institutes, and four-year schools.
High school seniors, recent graduates, and veterans — especially those who served in Vietnam — and their dependents, along with members of law enforcement, may apply. The Delaware Valley Chapter of the Nam Knights Motorcycle Club distributes these awards.
Edna M. Humphrey Engineering Scholarship Varies
The Edna M. Humphrey Engineering Scholarship supports sophomore, junior, and nontraditional students enrolled at the University of Wyoming. Applicants must pursue a degree in engineering or applied science, have residency in Wyoming, or serve as an active-duty military service member stationed in the state.
Members of the National Guard and veterans of the armed forces receive first preference for awards.
Education Connection's Military Scholarship $1,000
|About||Active-duty, honorably discharged veterans and military spouses can apply for scholarship vouchers through Education Connection. To apply, each individual must submit an essay, which Education Connection assesses for writing ability, creativity, originality, and overall excellence.|
Lint Center Scholarships Varies
The Lint Center for National Security Studies, Inc. awards scholarships to further honor numerous members of the armed services and leaders in military intelligence to promote global understanding. Programs span disciplines such as national security studies, counterintelligence, and alliance building.
Each candidate must submit an essay explaining their goals and ideas related to national security studies, plus a photograph, resume, transcripts, and two letters of recommendation.
Michael and Candy Yakimo Scholarship $150
Named for a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) fraternity at Missouri University of Science and Technology and his wife, the Michael and Candy Yakimo Scholarship supports veterans and the Beta-Eta fraternity chapter. If no applicant meets those qualifications, all TKE members may be considered.
Applicants must provide documentation of a minimum 3.0 GPA with evidence of outstanding and positive contributions to their chapter, campus, and community.
Raytheon Patriot Scholarship $10,000
|About||Raytheon Missiles and Defense and SVA award this scholarship to two student veterans annually. Open to veterans of the U.S. Army, the scholarship supports individuals who demonstrate a commitment to and passion for their fields of study. Each candidate must provide evidence of their leadership and community engagement, transcripts, one letter of recommendation, and a personal video.|
NBCC Foundation Military Scholarship Varies
|About||Supported by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), the NBCC Foudation Military Scholarship provides financial support for students pursuing a graduate degree in counseling. Applicants must demonstrate a dedication to serving military communities, as part of NBCC's larger effort to increase mental health resources for underserved groups.|
Patriot Scholarship Varies
|About||Veterans enrolled in a new program at Divine Mercy University can receive tuition discounts through this scholarship. Spouses, dependents, active-duty service members, and reservists can also apply. Recipients must meet the educational requirements for their program and provide documentation of military status.|
Posse Veterans Program Varies
|About||The Posse Veterans Program partners with three institutions to provide support for student veterans enrolled in undergraduate programs. Nominated individuals participate in an extensive interview process, receive pre-collegiate training, and meet weekly with mentors and staff. Recipients also have access to additional career support, tuition remission, off-campus events, and network-building activities.|
Roberta Derr Education Scholarship Varies
|About||Open to University of Wyoming enrollees, the Roberta Derr Education Scholarship supports individuals majoring in an education-related discipline. Wyoming residents and active-duty military personnel stationed in the state may apply. Learners in the National Guard and veterans pursuing college degrees after completing their military service receive preference.|
The Graydon and Myrth Fox Scholarship Varies
|About||Established to support veterans improving job skills or their life circumstances through education, the Graydon and Myrth Fox Scholarship is a renewable funding opportunity. Each applicant must have served honorably in the armed forces or be the spouse, child, or grandchild of a living or deceased veteran. Wounded personnel and surviving dependents receive preference for the award.|
The Jack E. Barger, Sr. Memorial Nursing Scholarship Fund Varies
|About||Awarded in conjunction with the Department of Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Nursing Foundation of Pennsylvania, the scholarship honoring Jack E. Barger supports active-duty service members, veterans, and their spouses and children. Each applicant must reside in Pennsylvania, enroll in an undergraduate program, and attend the award ceremony at a local VFW district meeting.|
Tillman Scholar Program Varies
|About||Recipients of the Tillman Scholar title demonstrate service, scholarship, humble leadership, and efforts to make a global impact. The program supports military service members, veterans, and spouses with annual funding, networking and mentorship opportunities, and leadership development training. To apply, candidates must submit a resume, a financial worksheet, and responses to prompted and personal essays.|
Troops to Teachers Varies
|About||Troops to Teachers supports current and retired military personnel and their spouses as they enter the field of education. Applicants receive funding and counseling based on their individual skills, goals, and education levels. Troops for Teachers operates in 15 states, with additional consortium agreements in place.|
Veterans United Scholarship Varies
|About||Surviving spouses and children of individuals who died in service-related events or were completely disabled during military service can apply for the Veterans United Scholarship. Eligibility extends to undergraduate and graduate learners. Applicants must submit a typed essay, demonstrate financial need, and provide evidence of community engagement and educational achievements.|
VFW's Sport Clips Help a Hero Scholarship $5,000
|About||Awarded twice each year, active-duty military service members and veterans can apply for the VFW Sports Clips Help a Hero Scholarship. Individuals must demonstrate financial need and be accepted to or enrolled in VA-approved programs or institutions. Recipients must use their awards during the semester for which they apply.|
Disabled Veteran Scholarships
Liberty University's Heroes Fund Scholarship Varies
|About||Individuals with documented service in the Gulf War can receive financial assistance for their first certificate or degree at Liberty University. Eligibility requirements include receipt of a Purple Heart or a diagnosed and rated disorder, as labeled by the VA. Spouses of military personnel killed in combat during the Gulf War may also apply.|
Paralyzed Veterans of America Educational Scholarship Program Varies
|About||Established in 1946, PVA supports veterans through medical research support, advocacy programs, and civil rights initiatives for individuals with disabilities. Members of PVA, their spouses, and their dependents can apply for the Educational Scholarship Program. Applicants need U.S. citizenship and must enroll full- or part-time at accredited colleges and universities.|
Yellow Ribbon Program Varies
|About||The Yellow Ribbon Program offers funds to supplement out-of-state, private, or graduate school tuition not covered by the GI Bill®. To qualify, applicants must have served at least 36 months of active duty, be the recipient of a Purple Heart, or be the dependent child of a veteran meeting these requirements.|
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the Department of Veterans Affairs Offer Scholarships?
The VA does not offer scholarships. Educational benefits provided through the VA include the GI Bill®, educational and career counseling, and debt management assistance.
Do Veterans Qualify for Pell Grants?
Veterans qualify for Pell Grants if they meet income requirements. To receive a Pell Grant, veterans must pursue degrees from accredited institutions and reapply each year.
Can Disabled Veterans Go to College for Free?
Some states offer free college for veterans and their dependents. For example, in Washington, veterans may receive partial or full tuition remittance at state community colleges, colleges, or universities. Dependents of disabled veterans can also apply for tuition and fee waivers.
Wisconsin offers its own GI Bill® to cover tuition and fees for eligible veterans and their dependents, while South Dakota supports disabled veterans who take undergraduate classes from colleges and universities funded by the state.
Does the GI Bill® Cover Four Years of College?
The GI Bill® covers 36 months of college or technical education. Students can apply their GI Bill® funds toward public in-state tuition and fees. Veterans enrolled at private or international institutions receive a capped amount of funding.
Additional funds provided through the GI Bill® include a monthly housing allowance, money for books and supplies, and a one-time payment to facilitate moving from a rural area to attend a college or university.
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the VA. More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/.
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