Financial Aid for Military & Veterans
Military personnel and veterans earn many education benefits related to their military service. Benefits through the GI Bill include tuition assistance, the Yellow Ribbon program, reserve and veteran educational assistance programs, and vocational rehabilitation and employment services. Many schools and organizations offer military medical scholarships and other awards that are specifically for military personnel, veterans, and their dependents. Government and private civilian employers may also offer education assistance to veterans.
The enactment of the Post-9/11 GI Bill expanded educational assistance programs and improved access and flexibility for military personnel. Following the drawdown of active duty service members from overseas, there has been a considerable increase in students who are using their benefits to achieve their educational goals. This page explains a few of the financial aid and military medical scholarships available for military personnel and veterans.
Financial Aid Programs for Military and Veterans
The Montgomery GI Bill
The Montgomery GI Bill offers two options: active duty and selected reserve. Military personnel pay into the program for one year and have the option of a Buy-Up Program to increase benefits. The Montgomery bill pays students, rather than the institution, monthly and has more specific eligibility requirements than the Post-9/11 Bill.
|What’s Covered?||Up to 36 months in online or on-campus degree or certificate programs, vocational training, on-the-job training, and training in entrepreneurship or high-tech fields. Some entrance and licensing examinations are also covered.|
|Who’s Covered?||Veterans who entered active duty after June 30, 1985, with two years of continual service, an honorable discharge, and high school diploma. Different eligibility applies for service dates prior to 1977, as well as for reservists.|
|How to Apply||Use VA Form 22-1990, apply online or by mail, or visit a veterans affairs office for assistance. You will receive a decision letter within 30 days.|
Post-9/11 GI Bill
The Post-9/11 GI Bill was enacted by Congress following September 11, 2001. This program pays institutions rather than the student. It includes access to additional benefits that are not available under other GI Bill programs, such as the Yellow Ribbon Program and transferring benefits to dependents.
|What’s Covered?||36 months of college education or on-the-job training. Classes may be taken on campus or online. The program also covers vocational programs, entrepreneurship training, and certification fees.|
|Who’s Covered?||Service members with 90 days of active duty since September 10, 2001, and veterans with 30 days of active duty and an honorable discharge or service-connected disability.|
|How to Apply||Complete the Application for VA Education Benefits. The application is available on the VA website or you can apply at a VA office or request a mailed application.|
Yellow Ribbon Program
Degree-granting institutions participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program to offset the additional costs of private and nonresident student tuition. This program supplements the Post-9/11 benefit program. It functions as a matching program between the institution and VA and may cover the entire tuition for a private or out-of-state college.
|What’s Covered?||Tuition and fees at degree-granting institutions participating in the program that exceed the benefits paid by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Education must meet the same requirements as those under the bill.|
|Who’s Covered?||Veterans eligible for the maximum benefit under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Their school must be a program participant. Active duty service members and spouses are not eligible.|
|How to Apply||Apply directly to the school by providing your Certificate of Eligibility. Participating institutions are listed on the VA website; many schools provide application instructions on their websites as well.|
National Call to Service
This is an incentive program from the Department of Defense to encourage national service in special occupational fields. The program is separate from the GI Bill programs; participants must reenlist to become eligible for the GI Bill and will receive a corresponding reduction in benefits. Five educational incentives are offered.
|What’s Covered?||Participants receive a $5,000 bonus, student loan repayment up to $18,000, or entitlement to a partial allowance under Montgomery GI Bill or Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.|
|Who’s Covered?||You must serve in a specified military occupation for 15 months, followed by an additional period of active duty service, and then complete obligated service on active duty, in the reserve, or in Americorps.|
|How to Apply||You should first contact your recruiter to see if you qualify. Complete the VA Form 22-1990N (Application for VA Education Benefits Under the National Call to Service (NCS) Program).|
Reserve Educational Assistance Program
REAP provided assistance to members of the Reserve who were called to active duty in response to war. The program ended on November 25, 2015 and was replaced by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Reservists, National Guard members, and veterans who are or were eligible for REAP should contact VA.
|What’s Covered?||Degree or certificate programs at approved institutions, on-the-job training at approved sites, and technical and vocational rehabilitation.|
|Who’s Covered?||Only current REAP beneficiaries who were attending school on or before November 25, 2015 are eligible until November 25, 2019. To transfer to the Post-9/11 GI Bill instead, contact the Education Call Center.|
|How to Apply||Applications are no longer accepted. You may be eligible for the Post-9/11 Gi Bill.|
Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance
The DEA program offers assistance to spouses and children of veterans with a permanent service-connected disability or of those who died on active duty or because of a service-connected condition. The Fry Scholarship is also available for dependents of service members who died in the line of duty following September 11, 2001.
|What’s Covered?||College or technical programs granting degrees or certificates, on-the-job training or work-study, and certification tests. A maximum of 45 months of education is covered or a total benefit of approximately $45,000.|
|Who’s Covered?||Dependents of a veteran who has a total and permanent service-connected disability or who died because of the disability, or dependents of a service member missing in action or detained in the line of duty.|
|How to Apply||Verify that your program is approved by VA. Complete VA Form 22-5490 (Dependents Application for VA Educational Benefits). If you already started your education, the school must submit your application with an enrollment certification.|
Scholarships for Veterans and Military Personnel
Health Professions Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: The Army, Navy, and Air Force offer a military medical scholarship program for prospective medical and allied health professionals. Applicants must be military personnel enrolled in qualifying accredited medical programs. Recipients must commit to a period of service as a military medical officer.
Amount: The program pays for books, full tuition and fees, and provides a monthly stipend for housing as well as a signing bonus.
Wellcentive Medical Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Wellcentive funds one annual scholarship for active duty military personnel or veterans pursuing a bachelor’s degree in allied health or a doctoral degree in medicine. The military medical scholarship requirements include an essay discussing why you want to enter the medical field.
Non-Traditional Student Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The American Legion sponsors this scholarship for students enrolled in trade or technical programs or two-year or four-year degree programs. Applicants must be members in good standing of the American Legion for at least two years.
Who Can Apply: American Veterans offers three scholarships to active duty, reserves, and veterans who are accepted into an eligible program. Scholarships are awarded based on need, merit, and academic achievement.
Amount: $1,000 – $12,000
Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship program is a collaboration with Veterans of Foreign Wars, Sport Clips, and Student Veterans of America. Military members and veterans with a rank of E-5 or below with demonstrated financial need are eligible to apply.
Pat Tillman Foundation
Who Can Apply: The Tillman Scholar Program is a prestigious fellowship open to active duty military, veterans, and spouses enrolled in a full-time program. Scholars are selected based on service, scholarship, humble leadership, and two essays.
Amount: average award is $10,000
Army Nurse Corps Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This military medical scholarship for nursing and anesthesia students is available to military personnel and spouses, children, and parents of service members in the U.S. Army.
The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (Fry Scholarship)
Who Can Apply: The Fry Scholarship provides Post-9/11 GI Bill education assistance to the surviving spouses and children of service members who died in the line of duty after September 11, 2001.
Amount: Full in-state tuition and costs up to $23,671; $1,000 per year for books; monthly housing allowance
TonaLaw Veterans Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The law office of Thomas Tona in New York state offers a scholarship to veterans enrolled in any accredited undergraduate program in the United States, including medical programs. Applicants submit a 300-600-word essay about how their military career prepared them for college.
US Veterans Magazine Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students attending an accredited program who are veterans or children of veterans may apply. Students with a full scholarship are ineligible. To apply, submit a short personal narrative and a 300-500-word essay about your college experience and career goals.
Scholarship for Disabled Veterans
Who Can Apply: The law offices of David A. Black awards scholarships to veterans with a minimum 30% disability rating. Students must use the scholarship at a degree-granting or vocational school within one year. To apply, submit a short personal statement and an optional 800-word essay.
Military Order of the Purple Heart Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart can apply for one of 80 scholarships. Applications are accepted from Purple Heart recipients and dependents of recipients who are accepted as full-time students in an undergraduate program.
eLearners Military Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This essay contest is open to military personnel, veterans, and spouses from any military branch who are currently enrolled in a college or trade school. A 250-word essay about how military experience prepared you for higher education is required.
Francis P. Matthews and John E. Swift Educational Trust Scholarships
Who Can Apply: Children of Knights of Columbus members who died or were disabled because of military conflict. Recipients must be enrolled full time at a four-year Catholic university.
Military Award Program
Who Can Apply: Imagine America Foundation offers a need-based $1,000 scholarship to active duty or reservist military personnel and veterans. Applicants must be members of Imagine America and enrolled in a participating school. The program includes military medical scholarships for the study of medical billing and coding.
Resources for Active Military and Veterans
- Aid for Military Families: StudentAid.gov, the website for the Department of Education’s federal student aid program, maintains a resource list for military personnel and family members.
- Department of Veterans Affairs: The VA website provides tools to find VA-approved schools, compare and apply for benefits, and access important news, such as the new GI Bill.
- Student Veterans: Student Veterans of America is a student veteran-led organization with veteran centers and support programs. SVA connects students with scholarships, mentorships, and other resources.
- Veterans of Foreign Wars: VFW offers many resources for veterans, including assistance in obtaining benefits. Student veterans can access tools on the website and specialized staff through the 1 Student Veteran program.
- Disabled American Veterans: DAV specializes in assisting veterans with obtaining benefits and supporting families and caregivers in transition. DAV also offers outreach programs and employment resources.
- American Legion: American Legion, the largest veterans service organization, includes a resource list of state-specific benefits on its website. Expert service officers assist veterans with benefits.