5 Education Funding Programs for Veterans

By Staff WriterLast Updated Jun 24, 2020 6:48:15 PM ET
Soldier with American flag in the background
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As a veteran, you’ve served your country in a very unique way by laying your life on the line for American values. Maybe you've even given up years of your life to serve overseas, far from home and family. When it's time to put military life behind you, you deserve some help as you embark on your next life goal, and that includes the goal of earning a college degree.

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Government and private funding programs exist to help veterans with college expenses. Here are some of the best programs to explore.

The GI Bill

The GI Bill is the most well-known veteran education benefit. In the past, you had to use your GI Bill benefits within 15 years of leaving active service. However, if your service ended on or after January 1, 2013, there is no longer an expiration date for your GI Bill benefits.

This program helps pay tuition, fees, housing and up to $1,000 for books and supplies. You have to apply for these benefits through the Veteran’s Administration (VA). VA programs like the GI Bill are a huge benefit for veterans.

Yellow Ribbon Project

Participation in this program means that a school has chosen to make additional funds available for veterans. To qualify for Yellow Ribbon funds, you must be eligible for maximum benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Schools have a limit regarding the amount of Yellow Ribbon school benefits for veterans, but these grants can be very generous if you win one. The school provides some of the funds, and the VA matches the amount.

State Tuition Waivers

Some states have chosen to show their support of veterans and veteran education by offering free tuition to qualifying veterans. Different states have different standards, but if you live in any of the following states you may be eligible for free tuition:

Connecticut Illinois Massachusetts Montana South Dakota Texas Wisconsin Wyoming
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Many states also provide grants for spouses of veterans missing in action or killed in action. Grants may be available for these veterans' children as well. This assistance covers tuition only, so fees, books and housing would still need to be paid.

Scholarships for Specific Majors

A variety of scholarships for veterans can help with school expenses. For instance, if you’re pursuing a degree in health care, you might qualify for the Veterans Advanced Fellowship and Professional Development in Health Care scholarship. If you’re interested in national security, you might win a scholarship or fellowship to the National Security Education Program (NSEP). This scholarship requires you to work for a government agency or related to national security affairs.

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Some scholarships focus on tuition, while others include housing benefits for veterans. You should review the specifics for each one.

Scholarships for Disabled Vets

Disabled veterans have access to specific scholarships. If you were disabled due to active-duty combat in Iraqi Freedom Operations or Enduring Freedom Afghanistan, you can apply for Disabled War Veterans Scholarships. These $2,500 awards are good for 2-year or 4-year accredited colleges and can also be applied to distance learning and online degrees. The program for veterans is funded through the AFCEA Education Foundation.

Your education matters. Take advantage of these five programs to get the funding you need. Most of all, thank you for your service.