Scholarships For Veterans And Dependents

This guide provides a list of veteran and dependent scholarships by state as well as reasons to apply, how to find scholarships, and application tips.

Updated September 6, 2022

Scholarships For Veterans And Dependents

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College students face large tuition bills. The typical learner attending an in-state public school pays just under $10,000 annually in tuition. Degree-seekers who enroll in a private college or university pay approximately $35,000 annually.

Earning a degree involves expenses in addition to tuition. Other college costs, such as room and board, books and supplies, and transportation make a degree more expensive than what many students can afford. These learners can turn to private scholarship opportunities to help make their education more affordable.

Although military service members, veterans, and their dependents benefit from the GI Bill®, they can still explore additional financial aid opportunities. States, military branches, schools, and organizations offer scholarships for veterans and their dependents. The following sections outline these financial aid opportunities.

Why Apply for Military Scholarships?

Scholarships for veterans help students earn a degree and return to civilian life. A degree confers new skills and may qualify graduates for various jobs. Many organizations extend the same benefits to veterans' spouses and children, especially those whose veteran spouse or parent died in combat.

1. The GI Bill Has Limitations

Service members become eligible for GI Bill benefits after 90 days of active service. Benefits increase until a service member attains three years of active service. At that point, the GI Bill covers in-state tuition at the most expensive in-state public college or university. The Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a database of schools accepting GI Bill benefits.

The GI Bill's primary limitation is that its benefits only cover three academic years, so learners seeking a four-year bachelor's degree may need to find additional funding sources for their fourth year.

2. Military Scholarships Recognize Veterans and Their Family Members

Military branches and private organizations sponsor scholarships for veterans, their spouses, and children. Grandchildren enrolled in an approved postsecondary program may qualify in limited circumstances. These awards detail eligibility criteria on their website, which may include possessing a Uniformed Services ID Card.

Learners interested in a military branch scholarship can start the application process by speaking with a commanding officer. These awards may impose rigorous requirements for renewal.

3. Military Scholarships Are Less Competitive

Scholarships for veterans appeal to learners due to their relatively small applicant pool. Fewer applicants means a greater chance of receiving funding. However, military service does not guarantee a scholarship. Learners should strive to submit the best application possible.

Like traditional scholarships, scholarships for veterans often require applicants to submit official transcripts, an essay, and recommendation letters from a work supervisor or commanding officer. Other materials may include proof of military enlistment.

1. Start As Soon As Possible
Prospective and current degree-seekers should start researching scholarships for veterans as soon as possible, as most scholarships use only one annual application deadline. Additionally, some scholarships are offered on a first come, first served basis.
2. Identify Recommenders
Many scholarships for veterans and scholarships for children of veterans require one or more recommendation letters. Scholarships may request letters from a commanding officer or work supervisor. If the scholarship does not specify recommenders, other options for recommenders include a high school or college professor.
3. Gather Necessary Documentation
In addition to proof of military affiliation, typical scholarship application documentation includes academic transcripts and recommendation letters. Some awards also require a work sample, a resume, an essay, and/or a photograph.
4. Write an Essay
An essay allows scholarship applicants to introduce themselves to the scholarship committee. Applicants should take care to stick to the essay prompt, as deviating from the assigned topic may make an applicant ineligible. Applicants can ask another person to read their essay and provide feedback before submitting it.
5. Submit Scholarship on Time
Students should pay close attention to scholarship deadlines. Some scholarships need applications in hand by a specific date, while others consider applications with a postmark by the due date.

3 Tips for Getting a Scholarship



1. Have Proof of Military Affiliation
Scholarships for veterans may require applicants to submit the DD Form 214. This form certifies a person's retirement or discharge from the armed forces. It also details a veteran's military service record, awards, and other essential information. Veterans can use the form for scholarships and other services, such as obtaining medical care and planning a military funeral.
2. Engage in Community Service
Scholarship applicants who complete community service demonstrate that they possess a passion for improving other people's lives. Options available in most communities include volunteering at a food bank, building homes for people with low incomes, and working at a soup kitchen. Organizations can help prospective volunteers research and sign up for opportunities in their area.
3. Follow Directions
Scholarship committees appreciate applicants who follow all instructions. Some scholarship committees disqualify applicants for even simple mistakes, such as leaving part of the application blank. If a scholarship committee requests missing materials, students should reply to them as soon as possible.

Additional Resources for Military Veterans and Their Families

This comprehensive resource outlines how readers can attain scholarships for veterans. The site also features scholarship opportunities aligning with different vocational fields, such as automotive repair, cosmetology, and culinary school. The government allows service members and veterans with at least six years' active-duty experience to transfer GI Bill benefits to their dependents. This guide outlines the process for transferring benefits to a spouse or child. This resource explains how service members and veterans can use their benefits. The resource covers topics like the FAFSA, the Yellow Ribbon Program, and the importance of military transcripts. Other resources include links to exclusive scholarship opportunities. The Forever GI Bill makes using and transferring benefits easier than the law's prior versions. This guide details these changes and how veterans and their families benefit.

Expert Interview

Richard Sorenson

Richard Sorensen, president of Tuition Funding Sources, founded the scholarship database in 1987. Tuition Funding Sources has been helping students find money for college for over 30 years, offering more than 7 million individual scholarships and more than $41 billion in aid.

Q. Why should veterans and their dependents apply for scholarships even if they have military education benefits available to them?

The amount of aid for veterans varies among programs. Each program places some exceptions or limitations on benefits. Veterans should use scholarship funds to pay for any tuition, housing, fees, or books not covered by their benefits. Dependents of veterans may or may not be covered by the benefit programs, making scholarships even more important for them.

Q. Is it possible that scholarships might clash with military education benefits? How can students ensure this does not happen?

Scholarships do not typically clash with military education benefits. Scholarship sponsors want their funds to be used and will make sure their awards are available to veterans or their dependents without any complications or conflicts with their existing military benefit programs.

Q. What tips can you offer veterans concerning searching and applying for scholarships?

The best advice is to apply often and early. Apply for as many scholarships as possible. Many scholarships are available to anyone. Treat the application process like a part-time job, spending a few hours each week searching and applying. Winning a scholarship requires effort and discipline, which should give veterans a head start.

Applying early improves applicants' chances of their application being seen and carefully reviewed by the selection committee. Early applications have a much better chance of creating a positive impression. Most students procrastinate and apply near the deadline, making it difficult for their application to stand out and be seen.


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.

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