Financial Aid for Military & Veterans
During the 2011-2012 school year, more than 1,000,000 undergraduate students had some connection to the military, including more than 800,000 veterans. The number of military-connected undergrads has risen steadily over the past several years. This growth is due in large part to the establishment of the Post-9/11 GI-Bill, which provides educational assistance to current and former military members, and the conclusion of the Iraq War. Due to increased educational funds and less overseas deployment, active duty military members and veterans from all branches have opted to take greater advantage of educational opportunities.
In addition to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which offers ample assistance to veterans through programs like the Post-9/11 GI-Bill and by providing funds that can be used as veterans affairs social work scholarships, many other groups also help military learners. For instance, many public and private universities and colleges reserve educational funds for veterans and members of the military. Non-educational organizations, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Fisher House, also provide assistance.
Financial Aid Programs for Military and Veterans
Montgomery GI Bill®
Enacted in 2009, the Montgomery GI Bill provides educational aid to service members for a maximum of 36 months. The bill includes two programs: the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD) program and the Montgomery GI BIll Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) program. For the MGIB-AD program, military members must pay $100 a month for a year and serve for at least two years to receive assistance. Alternatively, selected reserves must commit to six years of service to qualify for the MGIB-SR program. Qualified candidates should use these benefits within 10 years of being honorably discharged.
- What's Covered: Funds cover expenses related to attending colleges, universities, and vocational schools. Learners may also pursue approved training, like flight or technological training, and take exams for certification and licensure.
- Who's Covered: Four different categories of applicants qualify for MGIB-AD assistance. Honorably discharged veterans must meet the criteria for one of these categories. Alternatively, MGIB-SR aid applies to reserves of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps, as well as members of the Air National Guard and Army National Guard.
- How to Apply: Candidates can apply online using information related to their education and military experience. Applicants who struggle with the form can contact a representative to help them with the process. If an application is accepted, the student receives a certificate of eligibility (COE) from the VA.
Post-9/11 GI Bill®
This bill provides up to 36 months of financial assistance to veterans and dependents. Qualified applicants who served from Sept. 10, 2001 to Dec. 31, 2012 must use this assistance within 15 years of concluding their military service; however, veterans who served after this time period hold no such deadline. These funds may cover full tuition at public schools, although candidates attending private schools should note the various limits placed on tuition expenses at these institutions.
- What's Covered: The bill covers some or all of the cost of tuition, books, and other educational materials. Students may also obtain a monthly housing allotment. Learners can use this funding for traditional education, training, or license and certification procedures. The amount provided varies depending on the time spent in active service.
- Who's Covered: Veterans and active members (and their dependents) who served after Sept. 10, 2001 for a minimum of 90 days on active duty qualify. Interested candidates can look at the Post-9/11 GI Bill statement of benefits to determine their eligibility.
- How to Apply: Applications can be completed online, in person at select schools or VA institutions, or through the mail. Students having trouble determining which financial assistance program to select can turn to a veterans service organization for guidance.
Yellow Ribbon Program
Schools involved in this program agree to assist students with tuition expenses not covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill by contributing funds that the VA matches. For instance, if a learner attends an out-of-state school where non-resident tuition is $3,000 higher than resident tuition, the school and the VA may cover that difference by each contributing $1,500.
- What's Covered: Funds cover tuition and fees that exceed the financial assistance offered through the Post-9/11 GI Bill, but only at participating schools.
- Who's Covered: Veterans who actively served for at least 36 months -- or for at least 30 days with an honorable discharge due to injury -- after Sept. 10, 2001 qualify. Certain dependents can also obtain these funds.
- How to Apply: Candidates must present their COE for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to their school for consideration. Participating schools extend Yellow Ribbon benefits to a limited number of recipients, so students should apply early.
National Call to Service
This incentive program offers financial assistance to veterans who complete mandatory service in a position determined by the Secretary of Defense. There are also additional qualification steps to follow. Recipients of this assistance may not receive Montgomery GI Bill benefits for the same service time.
- What's Covered: Recipients may obtain a $5,000 bonus or up to $18,000 toward student loan repayment. Students can also use benefits to cover 12-36 months of tuition.
- Who's Covered: To qualify, applicants must complete three steps, beginning with mandatory service in a position determined by the Secretary of Defense. Additional steps may be completed through participation in AmeriCorps or as a selected reserve or individual ready reserve.
- How to Apply: Candidates may apply online, and applicants need to provide information regarding their military and education history. The VA typically reviews applications within a month, and approved applicants receive a COE.
Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance
Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) provides financial help to spouses and children of military members if a parent or military spouse suffers a substantial disability while serving or passes away due to injuries suffered during service. A related form of assistance is also offered through the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (Fry Scholarship), which aids dependents of military members who were killed after Sept. 10, 2001.
- What's Covered: Recipients may use these funds to pay for degrees, certificates, and/or training. Specifically, the DEA may pay $1,041 to students for educational uses. The Fry Scholarship supplies money for tuition and fees directly to the school and provides book and housing funds to the student.
- Who's Covered: Children and spouses of disabled or deceased military members may qualify for DEA assistance. Divorce and remarriage impact a spouse's eligibility but do not lead to automatic disqualification. For instance, candidates can remarry after the age of 57 and still remain eligible for benefits.
- How to Apply: Candidates may apply online, by mail, or in person at a VA institution or school. The VA may take up to a month to review an application before approving or denying a request.
Scholarships for Military and Veterans
U.S. Army Scholarships
The Legacy Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: The Army Women's Foundation offers assistance to current and former female soldiers and their descendants who demonstrate financial need, academic merit, and community involvement. Recipients may obtain up to $2,500 for undergraduate or graduate degrees at colleges and universities. Additionally, community college students and learners in certificate programs may receive a maximum of $1,000. Aspiring social workers can use these funds as an Army social work scholarship.
Amount: Up to $2,500
The Raytheon Patriot Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship assists honorably discharged Army veterans entering their sophomore, junior, or senior year of undergraduate study. Graduate students can also apply. Applicants must be attending an accredited school as a full-time student. Applications should include a letter of reference and essay responses to three questions related to a student's academic goals, Army experience, and leadership ability.
The National Ranger Memorial Foundation
Who Can Apply: Current and former Army Rangers qualify for this award. Applicants must hold a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Students can be enrolled in any field of study; therefore, individuals looking for an Army social work scholarship can apply.
The Larry Strickland Memorial Fund and Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Non-commissioned Army officers who demonstrate strong leadership skills can apply for this award. In addition to funding, recipients receive a bronze eagle and have their name engraved on a plaque at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy.
Health Professions Scholarship Program - Army
Who Can Apply: Active duty soldiers who meet the requirements for a commissioned officer may qualify this program. Applicants must be pursuing graduate degrees that relate to the healthcare field, such as psychology, dentistry, or social work. Recipients may use this Army social work scholarship to fund up to four years of full-time study.
Amount: Up to four years of tuition, books, fees, associated expenses, and a monthly stipend of over $2,000. Some applicants may qualify for a $20,000 sign-on bonus.
U.S. Navy Scholarships
The Navy Sea, Air, and Land Foundation Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Qualified applicants include active Navy Special Warfare members, SEAL or Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen members who served after 9/11, and Naval Special Warfare Support Personnel past their first tour; spouses of these individuals may also be eligible.
USS Hampton Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Dolphin Scholarship Foundation presents this award to past and present crew members who served for at least two years aboard the USS Hampton (SSN 767); the spouse, children, and/or stepchildren of a crew member may also apply.
Navy Tuition Assistance
Who Can Apply: Active sailors attending accredited schools may qualify this assistance, but they should speak with a Navy educational counselor to determine their eligibility. Officers who recieve this assistance must serve for two years after the funded term concludes. Naval Reserves may also apply, but only after they have accrued at least 120 days of active service.
Amount: Up to $4,500
Vice Admiral Robert L. Walters Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Members of the Surface Navy Association and their dependents may apply for this scholarship. Applicants must hold status as an Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist or Surface Warfare Officer with at least three years of military experience. Coast Guard members or veterans with a Cutterman Pin may also qualify.
Minority Serving Institution Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: Students may qualify for this award if they attend a historically Black college or university, a high Hispanic enrollment institution, or another minority serving institution. Applicants must also be Navy-Option Reserve Officer Training Corps members and earn qualifying scores on the SAT or ACT.
U.S. Air Force Scholarships
Captain Jodi Callahan Memorial Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship helps active Air Force members -- including participants of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve -- obtain a master's degree. All applicants must provide a letter of recommendation from an Air Force commander or supervisor and have a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Scholarship for Outstanding Airman to ROTC
Who Can Apply: Active duty Airmen with less than six years of service can apply for this award. SOAR recipients receive a discharge from active duty and become a part of the Air Force Reserve. Candidates must be nominated by a commander.
Amount: $15,000 per year for tuition plus a yearly textbook allowance ($510) and a monthly stipend of $250-$400
Health Professions Scholarship Program - Air Force
Who Can Apply: This scholarship provides aid to members of the Air Force for degrees connected to healthcare. Since social workers may practice in hospitals and clinics, this funding may serve as a veterans affairs social work scholarship. While on scholarship, participants spend 45 days on active duty in the Air Force; upon graduation, they must serve one year of active duty for each year of scholarship, serving a minimum of three years.
Amount: Tuition, expenses, and a monthly allowance
Professional Officer Course Incentive Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Members of the Air Force in the Professional Officers Course - Early Release Program (POC-ERP) can obtain this scholarship in addition to other POC-ERP benefits.
Amount: $3,000 per year for tuition plus $450 per year for textbooks and a monthly stipend of $350-$400
Air Force Clinical Social Work Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: This Air Force social work scholarship helps students pursuing a clinical master's in social work who hold an interest in becoming social workers in the Air Force. After earning their master’s degree, participants must attend a yearlong internship program at one of four social work training sites.
Amount: Tuition, fees, books, and a monthly allowance of $2,100
U.S. Marine Corps Scholarships
The Colonel Richard A. Christie Memorial College Assistance Award
Who Can Apply: Any Marine choosing to depart from the military and pursue a bachelor's degree may apply. Applicants should be full-time students who have demonstrated “exceptional courage and integrity in the face of a great obstacle.” The scholarship is delivered in monthly payments of $250.
Amount: $3,000 per year
Women Marines Association Memorial Scholarships
Who Can Apply: Members of the Marine Corps or Marine Reserves -- as well as children, siblings, and spouses of members -- qualify for these scholarships. Members of the marines must have spent at least two years in the Marine Corps JROTC. The application process requires an essay covering topics like a student’s future goals and community service experience.
Amount: $1,500 or $3,000
Colonel Jack Barnes Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Only members of the Marines' Memorial Association (and their children) may apply for this scholarship. Award amounts vary based on financial need.
Evelyn B. Hamilton Health Care Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Members of the Marines' Memorial Association (and their children or grandchildren) qualify for this award, provided that a student’s chosen major relates to healthcare. Students interested in healthcare social work may apply and use this award as a veterans affairs social work scholarship.
Colonel Richard Hallock Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Members of the Marines' Memorial Association (and their children or grandchildren) can apply for this scholarship. Applicants must be enrolled in an undergraduate program for the upcoming school year.
National Guard Scholarships
Veterans of Foreign Wars ‘Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship’
Who Can Apply: Members of the National Guard can apply for this scholarship provided they prove financial need and have finished follow-on training.
Alabama National Guard Educational Assistance Program
Who Can Apply: Alabama National Guard members can apply for this award after they complete basic training. Funds can be used to pay for tuition at most four-year institutions of higher education in the state of Alabama.
Amount: Full Tuition
Armed Forces Benefit Association National Guard Association of the United States Active Life Member Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Members of NGAUS and their families may apply for this scholarship. Applicants must be full-time students seeking an undergraduate or graduate degree.
The Massachusetts National Guard Education Assistance Program
Who Can Apply: Massachusetts National Guard members can earn a full tuition waiver at a state college, university, or community college. Assistance provides funding for up to 130 semester hours.
Amount: Full Tuition
NGAUS Graduate Scholarships
Who Can Apply: NGAUS partners with Grantham University to award two full graduate scholarships to Grantham. Applicants must hold membership with NGAUS and status as a commissioned or warrant officer, or be the spouse of a qualified person. Members of the Army National Guard or Air National Guard may apply. Applicants must meet Grantham's graduate admissions requirements and submit an essay.
Amount: Valued at up to $14,200
Coast Guard Scholarships
Captain Ernest W. Fox Perpetual Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Active members of the Coast Guard may apply for this scholarship and use the funds for preparatory, collegiate, postgraduate, professional, and/or vocational education, including formal and informal training.
Coast Guard Foundation Enlisted Reserve Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Made possible by a gift from the United States Automobile Association, this scholarship fund is open to current members of the Coast Guard Reserve and their dependents.
The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Supplemental Education Grant Program
Who Can Apply: Clients of CGMA may apply for aid to help fund undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, vocational and technical training programs, or the pursuit of a GED certificate. Applicants must supply a copy of their Coast Guard ID card.
Amount: Up to $500
Coast Guard Foundation and Vander Putten Education Grants
Who Can Apply: Active military members or reserves in the E-3 to E-6 pay range may apply for these grants.
Amount: $250 or $500
Coast Guard Pre-Commissioning Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students accepted into this scholarship program enlist in the Coast Guard, complete basic training during the summer, and receive full funding for up to two years of college. Funding includes tuition, books, and fees, as well as a full-time Coast Guard salary, housing allowance, and medical benefits. Students must complete at least 16 hours of Coast Guard tasks every month and undergo Coast Guard training during school breaks.
Military Families Scholarships
Heroes Tribute Scholarship Program for Children of the Fallen
Who Can Apply: To qualify, individuals must be the children of Marines who were killed under one of the circumstances listed on the scholarship page. Applicants must also hold a minimum 2.0 GPA and be attending or planning to attend a college or career training school listed on the National Center for Education Statistics's website.
Amount: $7,500 per year
Mary Rowena Cooper Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This need-based scholarship is awarded to children of Vietnam veterans. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, hold a minimum 2.0 GPA, and take at least six credits per semester.
Lieutenant Jon C. Ladda Memorial Foundation Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Applicant must be the child of a U.S. Naval Academy graduate or member of the Navy who served in the submarine service. Additionally, the applicant’s parent must have died on active duty or been medically retired with 100% disability. This scholarship is awarded based on scholastic achievement, financial need, and merit.
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Gold Star Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be a child (under the age 23) of a Sailor or Marine who died while serving on active duty or after retirement. Additionally, unremarried spouses of a Navy or Marine Corps service members who died under one of the circumstances listed on the scholarship page can also apply. Recipients must demonstrate financial need, be enrolled in school full time, and cannot already hold a degree.
Amount: $500-$2,500 per year
Mike and Gail Donley Spouse Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Spouses of active members of the Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, or the Department of Air Force Civilian Services may qualify. Candidates must hold a minimum 3.5 GPA and and submit an essay regarding their future ambitions.
Resources for Active Military and Veterans
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Veterans receive financial and physical assistance from the VA through benefits like loans and the Yellow Ribbon program. The organization also runs medical centers for veterans and sustains a crisis hotline. Additionally, the VA may also help aspiring social workers find veterans affairs social work scholarships.
- Wounded Warrior Project: This organization assists veterans whose military service occured on or after Sept. 11, 2001. Types of aid include counseling, career assistance, help with VA benefits, and programs such as Soldier Ride.
- Fisher House: This association provides veterans and their families with housing near VA hospitals when a relative undergoes treatment. The Fisher House also offers scholarships -- including funds that can serve as veterans affairs social work scholarships -- and directs the Hero Miles program, which pays family travel expenses to visit a wounded service member.
- We Honor Veterans: This group focuses on providing healthcare for veterans. As a part of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, WHV reaches out to medical centers in an effort to encourage empathy and respect for veterans undergoing treatment.
- American Veterans: AMVETS aids veterans by engaging in advocacy projects and helping individuals access healthcare. In addition to speaking for veterans in public policy matters, the group engages in fundraising; one such projects focuses on building monuments for fallen heroes.
- National Veterans Foundation: This group hosts a hotline that veterans can use to contact fellow veterans for support. It also helps provide veterans with basic essentials, like clothing. Additionally, veterans can use NFV to obtain career assistance.
* 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 http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.