Veterans and active duty military members who would like to attend college may be eligible for enough tuition assistance and scholarships to pay for their entire degree.
Whether you’re seeking a two-year, four-year, or even a master’s degree, you can find tuition assistance if you know where to look.
Military Scholarships and Tuition Assistance Programs
Here are some common programs and scholarships you should know about:
Assistance From Your Employer
Some civilian employers provide tuition assistance eligible veterans. Check with your company’s human resources department to find out what’s available.
If you’re still on active duty, ask your commanding officer or supervisor to connect you with tuition assistance programs. Some programs cover 100 percent of your tuition, though you will likely have caps on the number of courses you can take per year.
Guard and Reserve members may also have access to tuition assistance from the military.
Since its inception after World War II, the GI Bill has provided excellent benefits to veterans seeking higher education.
The GI Bill can be used by both active duty and veterans. Active duty personnel can use the GI Bill to close the funding gap if the military’s tuition assistance won’t cover the entire cost.
Veterans and civilians can use the GI Bill to cover tuition costs at any accredited college. Depending on which version of the GI Bill you are eligible for, you can receive a monthly stipend of more than $1,200 per month.
Recent changes to the GI Bill could allow you to receive a benefit that equals the highest tuition bill at the most expensive public university in your state of residence.
Though it’s not a military-specific program, Upromise can help you save money for college. The program encourages college savings by directing money you spend into a savings account.
To use Upromise, you open a free account and connect your credit or debit cards to your account.
When you buy certain items, Upromise directs small percentage-based deposits into your Upromise account. A lot of leading online and brick-and-mortar retailers participate. You’ll be saving for college without even noticing.
Another added benefit: You can get tax breaks by directing your Upromise dollars into a 529 account at Sallie Mae which administers the Upromise program. Even if you don’t use the money yourself, you can save it for your children.
There are literally thousands of military scholarships available to active duty military members, Guard and Reserve members, and military veterans.
Even when you have your tuition covered by the GI Bill or some other form of tuition assistance, a scholarship can help cover living expenses or lost wages you’d incur by spending time in class and studying.
We can’t list them all here, but we’ll hit a few highlights:
AFCEA Military Personnel Scholarships
For: Students in engineering-related fields including computer science
Requirements: At least sophomore-level students with 3.0 GPA or higher at a four-year institution
Deadline: May 1
Contact: (800) 336-4583 or [email protected]
For: Any accredited degree seeking military member or veteran
Requirements: High school diploma or GED not in default on previous student loans
Deadline: April 30
Contact: (301) 683-4031 or [email protected]
Army Staff Sgt. Special Agent Richard S. Eaton Jr. Scholarship
For: Students seeking a career in alliance building, counterintelligence, cultural understanding, or national security
Requirements: Application requires an essay, transcripts, resume, and personal statement
Deadline: Jan. 31 and July 31
Contact: [email protected]
Army Women’s Foundation Legacy Scholarship
For: Female undergraduate or graduate students
Requirements: GPA of 3.0 or higher; application requires an essay, transcripts, and recommendations
Deadline: Jan. 15
Contact: (804) 734-3078 or [email protected]
Dolphin Scholarship Fund
For: Unmarried children or stepchildren of active duty members of the Navy’s Submarine Force who have served at least eight years
Requirements: Selection based partly on need, commitment of student, and extracurricular activities
Deadline: March 15
Contact: (757) 671-3200, Ext. 111, or [email protected]
Fisher House Foundation Scholarships for Military Children
For: Unmarried children of active duty, Guard, or Reserve members or retirees
Requirements: GPA 3.0 or higher; attending accredited institution and enrolled full-time
Deadline: Feb. 28
Contact: (703) 378-5670 or [email protected]
Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund
For: Dependent children of active duty service member killed or permanently disabled in an operational mission or training accident
Requirements: High school seniors or high school graduates admitted to or currently enrolled in any accredited college or university
Deadline: June 30
Contact: (703) 444-7940 or [email protected]
General George S. Brown Spouse Tuition Assistance Program
For: Spouses of U.S. Air Force members serving overseas
Requirements: GPA of 2.0 or higher and demonstrated financial need; must be legally married to U.S. Air Force member with no divorce pending
Deadline: March 7
Contact: (703) 972-2650 or [email protected]
Hope for the Warriors Spouse/Caregiver Scholarships
For: Spouses or caregivers of military members who have been injured in the line of duty
Requirements: Personal essay, proof of military injury or death, questionnaire, letters of recommendation
Deadline: April 1
Contact: (877) 246-7349 or [email protected]
Paralyzed Veterans of America Scholarships
For: Paralyzed veterans, their spouses, or their unmarried children younger than 24
Requirements: Must be accepted or currently enrolled, full-time or part-time, in an accredited institution with good academic progress
Deadline: Jan. 1
Contact: (800) 424-8200 or [email protected]
Pat Tillman Scholarships
For: Active duty military members of any branch
Requirements: Minimum 3.0 GPA, proof of service; applicants must demonstrate Pat Tillman’s values and strength of character.
Deadline: March 6
Contact: (773) 360-5277 or [email protected]
Troops to Teachers Program
For: Current or former active duty military members committed to a career teaching in our nation’s classrooms, pre-K through grade 12
Requirements: Proof of service, teaching or educational background information, personal statement on vocational interests
Deadline: April 15
Contact: (850) 452-1194 or [email protected]
The list of military-specific programs above is far from comprehensive. Members of the military or military veterans have a much wider variety of scholarship opportunities.
But military members are not limited to military-specific scholarships. Hundreds of thousands of scholarships are available beyond those designated specifically for military members.
There are many places to find them, all you need to do is look around online and ask your institution’s Financial Aid office. Sometimes, scholarships go unclaimed because no one applied or none of the applicants met the scholarship requirements.
One thing to remember: You should never pay for scholarship eligibility! If you need to spend money — other than on postage or to get transcripts from previous colleges or secondary schools — you’re probably dealing with a scam.
Online Education Programs and Military Friendly Schools
Many online education programs offer favorable tuition and expenses, and some schools offer military members special deals.
Sometimes the best way to learn about these offers is word of mouth. If you know a fellow service member or veteran who attends college, ask how they’re paying for it. You can also find plenty of online resources.
Online schools have the advantage of being accessible even when you’re deployed or stationed off campus.
Money for College Can Fund Your Next Mission
All veterans and active duty military members already know they have valuable experience and knowledge that can’t be learned in a classroom.
Still, higher education unlocks opportunities and gives us new ways to use our skills and knowledge.
We’re fortunate to have a society that values education and military service. By combining tuition assistance, the GI Bill, and scholarship money, you have a pretty good chance of covering your tuition bill and then some.