Scholarships, Grants, and Student Loans for Veterans, Active Military, and Military Families
In 1944, Congress passed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act. More commonly known at the G.I. Bill, this piece of legislation was designed to help military veterans returning from war to re-enter civilian life. The bill provided financial aid to veterans so that they could go to school, earn a college education, and open themselves up to new job opportunities beyond life in the military.
Today, many organizations continue on in the spirit of the original G.I. Bill, offering financial aid so that those who have served in the military are able to receive the quality of education that they deserve. These are some of the best scholarships, grants, and student loans available to veterans.
Table of Contents
- 1 Military Scholarships and Scholarships for Veterans
- 2 Educational Grants for Veterans
- 3 Grants for Military Dependents
- 4 Student Loans for Veterans & Military Dependents
Military Scholarships and Scholarships for Veterans
There are a variety of scholarships available for veterans or for anyone associated with the military.
Scholarships for Veterans
- AMVETS’ Scholarships — These three scholarships are open to veterans, activity duty military, or members of the reserves. They range between $1,000 to $3,000 per year and can help to cover costs that the G.I. Bill doesn’t provide enough support for.
- Military Order of the Purple Heart Scholarship Program — This scholarship is open to veterans who have received the Purple Heart, a presidential award for members of the armed forces who have been wounded or killed in action. The scholarship is also open to spouses and direct descendants of Purple Heart recipients.
- Troops to Teachers — Like many scholarships, Troops to Teachers is available to people seeking a specific career path. In this case, the scholarship is open to veterans who are going to school to become teachers themselves.
Scholarships for Children of Veterans & Military Dependents
- Folds of Honor Higher Education Scholarship — This scholarship is available for children and spouses of veterans who were killed or wounded in the line of duty. Family members of active duty military can also apply if their service-member has received a Purple Heart.
- Sarah A. Bonnifield Vietnam Veterans Scholarship — This scholarship is available to veterans of the Vietnam War and their spouses, children, and grandchildren.
- My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) — This scholarship program is specifically for spouses of service-members. It provides up to $4,000 towards a degree, license, or certification in a portable career field that will allow a military spouse to keep up with a family that’s always on the move.
Even if you’re not a veteran yourself or don’t have a veteran in the family, there are still scholarships available in connection with military service. By joining the Reserve Officers Training Corp (ROTC), college students can earn financial aid towards tuition and living expenses for college. ROTC scholarships are awarded based on a student’s performance rather than financial need. By completing the ROTC course during college, you are obligated to serve as an officer in the United States Army after graduation.
Educational Grants for Veterans
Scholarships usually require that recipients meet some essential academic requirement, such as performing well in a specific domain or maintaining high GPA throughout one’s college career. However, Grants often come with fewer strings attached. In a way, Grants are free money given to students in order to help them pay for college.
Historically, the most useful grant for veterans has been the G.I. Bill, first passed in 2004. Today, a modern version of the bill exists, passed as the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act in 2008. If you’re a veteran of the military, then you may be eligible for Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits. These benefits include:
- 100% of tuition and fees for courses or training programs taken from an accredited university.
- A monthly stipend to help with the cost of housing and other living expenses, determined according to the VA’s latest rates tables.
- $1,000 a a year to pay for textbooks and other school supplies.
In order to qualify for these benefits, you must:
- Have served on active duty for a total number of 90 days at any time after September 10, 2001.
- Be an active veteran currently OR have been honorably discharged OR have been discharged due to a service-related disability.
If you are a veteran interested in receiving your G.I. Bill benefits, then you can apply on the VA’s website.
Grants for Military Dependents
Grants for Children of Veterans
The G.I. Bill provides excellent benefits to veterans, but there are also grants available to children of veterans who are seeking financial aid. These grants are available for those who lost family members to military service:
- Federal Pell Grants — Every student with sufficient financial need is eligible to receive a Pell Grant. However, if a family died during military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, then you can apply for a Pell Grant with an expected family contribution of zero. This will maximize the amount of Pell Grant money that you recieve.
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants — If you are ineligible for a Pell Grant due to your expected family contribution, but you have lost a parent or guardian as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, then you may be eligible for an Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. This grant awards the same amount as highest Pell Grant and does not change your eligibility for other forms of need-based aid.
In order to apply for either of these grants, you must complete out your FAFSA form.
Military Spouse Grants
Military spouses aren’t eligible for the same kinds of grants as children of veterans, but they can still receive G.I. Bill benefits through a provision that allows unused benefits to be transferred from a service-member to an immediate family member, including a spouse. In order to transfer G.I. Bill benefits you must meet the following criteria:
- Have at least six years of military service behind you and commit to serving four more years.
- OR have ten years of military service behind you without an option for four more years according to branch or Department of Defense policy. In this case, you must commit to serving the maximum number of years possible according to policy.
- You must submit a transfer request while still a member of the armed forced.
Student Loans for Veterans & Military Dependents
Grants and scholarships are a great way to pay for college, but they aren’t always enough to cover tuitions, fees, housing, and all of the other expenses that come with a college education. Student loans make up the backbone of financial aid and there are special student loan options available for veterans. Veterans with student loans or veterans who are considering taking out student loans should consider these programs:
- Leave No Veteran Behind — This program offers “scholarships” to veterans who have already completed their education. It provides money to help veterans with their student loan payments.
- Direct Loans — Like most college students, veterans who are going to school are eligible for direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans. These student loans are borrowed directly from the federal government. In the case of subsidized loans, interest on the loan is paid by the government for as long as the student enrolled full time at an accredited institution.
In addition to these benefits, there are also military student loan forgiveness programs for current or potential service-members.
The United States government and other non-profit organizations are committed to leaving no veteran behind. When it comes to re-entering civilian life, a good education is paramount. These programs make sure that every soldier and their family will receive the financial aid that they deserve.
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Nick Cesare is a writer from Boise, ID. In his free time he enjoys rock climbing and making avocado toast.
This post was updated February 28, 2019. It was originally published March 20, 2018.