Scholarships for Military Service Members and Dependents

TBS Staff Writers
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Updated October 17, 2023
Military scholarships also support students who plan to enter the armed forces or want to advance their careers while serving. Eligible candidates include incoming

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Military scholarships are offered to veterans, enlisted soldiers, and high school and college students aspiring to careers in the military.

Military personnel includes individuals who serve or have served in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Space Force, or National Guard. Reservists, active members of the armed forces, and veterans all qualify for federal student aid, as do many of their dependents. Members of the military and their families should explore these and other programs when pursuing college degrees.

Military scholarships also support students who plan to enter the armed forces or want to advance their careers while serving. Financial aid opportunities include scholarships, grants, and low-interest loans.

Limitations and eligibility restrictions for the GI Bill® can mean service members need additional financial aid for college. While the GI Bill® can cover many expenses related to a college degree or training program, the scholarships below help supplement those funds. Members of the military, their dependents, and veterans should further research the following scholarships to determine which meet their specific circumstances.

Army Scholarships

Air Force Scholarships

Navy And Marine Corps Scholarships

National Guard Scholarships

Coast Guard Scholarships

Other Military Scholarships

Military Benefits

Members of the military receive access to healthcare, housing and homeownership programs, and financing opportunities, as well as discounts on other services. Other benefits include caregiver support, tax preparation assistance, and career development assistance.

Military and veteran benefits extend to education, with programs designed to support members of the armed forces, their spouses, and their dependents.

Federal and state agencies also support active-duty military members and veteran students through scholarship and grant opportunities, counseling and tutoring resources, specialized training programs, and transfer credit agreements.

Veteran-friendly colleges and universities often offer tuition discounts for active and retired members of the military and their dependents.

Military Academies

Federal military academies train students for service in one of the nation’s armed forces. To apply for entry to a federal military academy, candidates must present documents demonstrating excellence in academics, service, and leadership. Support from a political official and attendance at summer programs also benefit students during the application process.

Once admitted to a federal military academy, students receive full tuition, room and board, and costs for books and supplies. By covering all tuition and living expenses, military academies support students through their entire undergraduate degrees.

During four years at a military academy, learners earn degrees comparable to those offered at colleges and universities around the country. Instructors supplement humanities, engineering, and social science coursework with military training, research activities, and physical programs designed to prepare students for service.

During the first five years after graduation from a federal military academy, students attend basic officer training and enter vocations within the armed forces. After five years, individuals can advance within the military, transition to a reserve role, or enter a civilian career.

Federal Military Academies

Admission to the U.S. Military Academy, most often referred to as West Point because it is located in West Point, New York, requires a strong academic background, leadership experience, and physical prowess. West Point’s interdisciplinary curriculum leads to a bachelor of science degree in the student’s major of choice. At the end of their time at West Point, learners choose a branch of military service, although consideration is first given to the needs of the Army. 

To apply to the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis, Maryland, individuals must demonstrate moral character and academic excellence and pass a fitness assessment. At the USNA, learners complete required core classes and major coursework in anticipation of serving in the U.S. Navy or the Marine Corps. 

Located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the U.S. Air Force Academy is a training ground for the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Space Force.

Two additional military academies — the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy — are located in Nassau County, New York, and New London, Connecticut, respectively.

The core curriculum emphasizes critical thinking, scientific reasoning, communication, leadership, and teamwork.

The former prepares learners to serve in the U.S. Merchant Marines or other military ranks, while the U.S. Coast Guard Academy offers nine academic majors for cadets who intend to serve in the Coast Guard.

Finding and Applying to Scholarships

Service members have many options for financial help when pursing a college degree. Individual colleges and universities commonly offer scholarships specifically for military personnel, while communities and corporations provide financial aid. Scholarships for active-duty military members, veterans, and their dependents often support specific branches of service.

Many organizations and groups also support the spouses and children of military members and veterans, with additional programs designed to support relatives of soldiers who have lost their lives or been injured in the line of duty.

For many learners, military service is a viable financial aid option, although it is not the only option. By signing up to serve in the military, students can gain access to scholarships for tuition, housing, books, and supplies, which are often renewable and can supplement other financial aid options.

Where to Look

Students can access information about scholarships by talking to guidance counselors and representatives from prospective schools or by visiting online databases and guides. Military.com and U.S. Veterans Magazine offer content about financial aid specifically for service members. 

Another good place to start is the Federal Student Aid website, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education. This site offers a variety of information on government funding, including scholarships for military families, active-duty personnel, veterans, and those who plan to join the military.

How to Apply

Students should apply for as many scholarships as possible. More applications means more opportunities to receive financial support. However, applicants should check scholarship guidelines before submitting their materials; many scholarships limit eligibility based on things like demographics, income level, and academic performance, and some have conditions related to how they are spent.

Application requirements vary by scholarship, so candidates should prepare a wide variety of materials in anticipation of their search. Common requirements include transcripts, letters of recommendation, and personal essays. To improve your chances, it’s best to highlight academic success and engagement with your community. Military and veteran scholarships often also call for discussion of past service, current military duties, or future military goals.

Submitting your scholarship application on time is key, so always check deadlines and contact potential references or letter writers well in advance. This ensures references will submit their letters in a timely manner. You should also consider requesting transcripts, writing and revising application essays, and securing all required documents well in advance to prevent potential problems during the application process.

Frequently Asked Questions

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/.

Military Resources

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