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Guide to Veteran & Dependent Scholarships by State Find the Money for College That You and Your Family Deserve

Paying for a college or graduate education can be expensive, but lowering the financial burden is critical. This is true for anyone, but perhaps especially true of those who have served in the armed forces, as they have often been far too busy serving their country to worry about saving up for college expenses.

Fortunately, there are numerous scholarships out there for veterans and their dependents. Some are exclusive to them, meaning that only those who have some service in the armed forces (or their direct dependents) can qualify. Scholarships do not have to be paid back; that’s why many view them as “free money” for college. Here’s what veterans need to know about getting the money they deserve.

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Why Military Scholarships Are Valuable

Scholarships make it easier for any student to get an education, but military scholarships are particularly valuable because they focus on helping veterans further their education. Here’s why it matters.

  1. A post-secondary education is expensive.

    College costs a lot of money. A public, in-state tuition comes in at just under $10,000 for the 2018-2019 academic year, per US News and World Report. And that number doesn’t even factor in the cost of room and board. Those looking to attend a private college or university can expect to shell out more than $35,000 each academic year for just tuition and fees.

  2. The GI Bill® has limitations.

    The GI Bill® is an amazing benefit, so much so that many people enlist just to take advantage of it. But it’s not perfect; in fact, it has a host of restrictions and limitations. For example, eligible individuals must use their benefits within 15 years from active service and can only receive up to four academic years of benefits. With scholarships, there are no such restrictions.

    GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA). More information about educational benefits offered by the VA is available at the official U.S. government website at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.

  3. Scholarships do not need to be repaid.

    The best thing about scholarships is that they do not need to be repaid like loans do. This means scholarships directly reduce the cost of an education rather than defer when the student must pay for that education.

  4. Military scholarships recognize the veteran’s service.

    Serving in the US armed forces is a sacrifice. It takes time away from personal pursuits and goals, and it can sometimes lead to physical and emotional injuries that can take decades to heal, assuming they ever fully heal at all. As a result, military scholarships represent just a small token of the scholarship organization’s appreciation of the price veterans have paid.

  5. Shrinking state budgets.

    Some states are spending less money on their public higher education. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, states spent $9 billion less in 2017 than they did in 2008. This leads to not just a drop in the quality of education, but higher tuition and fees for students. Scholarships can help bridge this gap.

  6. Allows veterans to continue serving others.

    Many public service positions don’t pay as well as some of their private sector counterparts. Given the burden of school loans, veterans who wish to continue serving others by working as a first responder, teacher or other public sector job may have to choose a different career path. But scholarships can reduce or eliminate these loans, providing the financial freedom to choose a career that allows the veteran to continue serving without worrying about providing for their family.

  7. Allows family members also benefit from a veteran’s service.

    Veterans are not the only ones who sacrifice. Spouses and children often go many months without seeing their father, mother or spouse. Helping reduce the cost of an education for the loved ones acknowledges these individuals who have also made a sacrifice for their country.

  8. Military scholarships have less competition.

    Scholarships are great, so that means there’s usually a lot of competition to obtain one. It makes sense that the fewer eligible applicants, the easier a scholarship might be to get. Those only available to veterans or their dependents will inherently have less competition, which makes them easier to obtain.

Veteran & Dependent Scholarships by State

When someone begins to look for scholarships, it’s easy to get overwhelmed: there are literally thousands to choose from. To make the search a little easier, we’ve come up with a small sample of what’s potentially available to veterans and their dependents. These are organized by state.

State Name of Scholarship Amount Deadline
AL Alabama GI Dependent's Scholarship varies ongoing
AK Alaska Sea Service Scholarship $1,000 01-Mar
AZ Arizona Tuition Waiver Scholarship (Purple Heart waiver) - ongoing
AZ Military Active Duty & Reservist Commitment Scholarship-Arizona State University out-of-pocket tuition not covered by other benefits ongoing
AR Military Dependents Scholarship Program (MDS) varies 01-Jul-19
CA ThanksUSA Scholarship Program N/A N/A
CA College Fee Waiver waives mandatory system-wide tuition and fees N/A
CO University of Colorado Office of Veterans Services Exhausted Benefits Scholarships $1,000 02-Jul
CO University of Colorado Office of Veterans Services Harvey Veteran Scholarship $5,000 02-Aug
CT Tuition Waivers cover only the cost of tuition N/A
DE Delvets Post 2 Scholarship $1,000 March
DE Delaware Veterans Post 1 Scholarship N/A N/A
FL Scholarships for Children and Spouses of Deceased or Disabled Veterans - April 1, 2019
GA GI Bill N/A N/A
GA Georgia HERO Scholarship Up to $2,000 N/A
GA Chapter 1607 (Montgomery GI Bill) N/A N/A
HI Hickham Officers' Spouses' Club for Military Dependents N/A 01-Mar
HI USS Bowfin Memorial Scholarship varies 31-Jan
ID Idaho Veterans Support Fund N/A N/A
IL MIA/POW Scholarship full payment of tuition N/A
IL Illinois National Guard Grant N/A 01-Oct
IN Post 9/11 GI Bill N/A N/A
IN Tuition and Fee Exemption N/A N/A
IA Branstad/Reynolds Scholarship Fund N/A December 31st
IA War Orphan Tuition Assistance limited to $600.00 per calendar year for each with a lifetime maximum benefit of $3,000.00. N/A
KS Flint Hills Student Veteran Scholarship-Kansas State University $1,000 October, February
KS LTG Richard J. Seitz Veteran Scholarship-Kansas State University $2,000 September
KY Tuition Waiver Program N/A N/A
KY New GI Bill N/A N/A
LA Louisiana Title 29 Dependents? Educational Assistance N/A N/A
LA Veterans Educational Assistance Program N/A N/A
ME State of Maine Guard Tuition Assistance 100% tuition waiver N/A
ME Veterans Dependents Educational Benefits 100% waiver of tuition and all related fees for spouses and dependents of veterans N/A
MD Veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq Conflicts Scholarship Program amount may not exceed 50% of the annual tuition 01-Mar
MD Edward T. Conroy Memorial Scholarship may not exceed the equivalent annual tuition and mandatory fees 15-Jul
MA Veterans United Foundation Scholarship up to $20,000 N/A
MA Horatio Alger Association Scholarships N/A N/A
MI Michigan National Guard State Tuition Assistance Program Up to $600 per credit hour N/A
MI Children of Veterans Tuition Grant $11,200 N/A
MN Veteran Education Assistance $750 N/A
MN Surviving Spouse and Dependent Education assistance $750 per fiscal year N/A
MS Mississippi National Guard Tuition Program N/A N/A
MS Captain Kermit O. Evans, Sr. Annual Scholarship-Mississippi State University N/A N/A
MO Wartime Veteran?s Survivors Grant Program The lesser of the actual tuition charged for the number of hours in which you are enrolled OR the amount of tuition charged a Missouri resident enrolled in the same number of hours at the University of Missouri Columbia. An allowance of up to $2,000 per semester for room and board; and The lesser of the actual cost for your books OR $500 Jan. 1, 2019
MO Missouri Returning Heroes Act $50 per credit hour N/A
MT Montana War Orphan Tuition Waiver 100 percent of the cost of resident tuition N/A
NE Waiver of Tuition Program 100% of a student?s tuition charges and tuition-related fees N/A
NE Reservist Tuition Credit Program 50% tuition credit N/A
NH Orphans Of Veterans Scholarships stipend of up to $2,500 N/A
NJ New Jersey Vietnam Veterans? Memorial Foundation Scholarship Program N/A N/A
NM Combat Veterans? Scholarship Award tuition costs and books directly associated with undergraduate and master?s degree work at a public New Mexico Institute of Higher Education only first come, first served basis
NM Veterans? Educational Benefits Vietnam Veteran Scholarship pay full tuition and books at any state funded post-secondary school N/A
NV Nevada National Guard Fee Waiver Fee waiver for active servicemembers and survivor dependents who qualify
NY The Fry Scholarship Full tuition & fees paid directly to the school N/A
NY Military Service Recognition Scholarship award covers up to four years of full-time undergraduate study 30-Jun
NC North Carolina?s Scholarship Program N/A 14-Feb
ND Allied Van Lines Scholarship 2 recipients will be awarded $1,000 N/A
ND ND Dependent Tuition Waiver Free tuition to qualified dependents N/A
OH Ohio War Orphans Scholarship 84% of tuition and general fees May 15th each year
OH Ohio Safety Officers College Memorial Fund Fund will provide benefits which cover 100% instructional and general fee charges N/A
OK Folds of Honor N/A N/A
OK Fisher House Military Scholarship N/A N/A
OR Voyager Tuition Assistance Program fee remission for no more than the difference between campus tuition N/A
OR Surivors' and Dependents' Education Assistance Program N/A N/A
PA Educational Gratuity Program Payment will not exceed $500.00 per term or semester per qualified child N/A
RI Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program pays up to the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition N/A
RI RI National Guard State Tuition Assistance Program Up to five tuition free classes per (fall or spring) semester N/A
SC South Carolina Tuition Program Free Tuition N/A
SD Free Tuition for Veterans/SDCL 13-55-2 to 13-55-5 N/A N/A
SD Free Tuition for Dependents of POW?s and MIA?s/SDCL 13-55-9.2 to 13-55-9.6 N/A N/A
TN Helping Heroes Grant twelve (12) semester hours each term first-come, first-served basis
TN Post-9/11 GI Bill N/A N/A
TX Hazelwood Act Exemption Up to 150 hours of tuition exemption at Texas public institutions of higher learning varies by school
TX Post-9/11 GI Bill national maximum rate of $21,970.46 varies by school
UT Forever GI Bill N/A N/A
VT Armed Services Scholarship up to 18 credits per semester first-come, first-served basis
VT National Guard Educational Assistance Program Varies first-come, first-served basis
VA Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program N/A 15-Dec
VA Forever G.I. Bill N/A N/A
WA The Forever GI Bill N/A Ongoing
WA Children of Fallen Patriots N/A N/A
WV Yellow Ribbon G.I. Education Enhancement Program N/A N/A
WI Wisconsin GI Bill N/A N/A
WY Wyoming National Guard Assistance Plan N/A 01-Oct
SHOW MORE

Where to Find Additional Veteran & Dependent Scholarships

To find additional scholarships, veterans and their dependents can focus on organizations that will have scholarships specifically for them. Some of these are military based, but others are made possible by civilian organizations or schools. A few example scholarships are provided here; keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list, so individuals are encouraged to check out each organization directly to see their full scholarship offerings.

National Guard

Students who are members of the National Guard or in a ROTC National Guard program will have a number of scholarships available just for them. Those interested can find out more by speaking with their superior officer.

Dedicated Army National Guard (DEDNG) Scholarship

Those scoring at least a 920 on the SAT (19 on the ACT) and having a 2.50 high school GPA can apply for this scholarship, which provides full tuition, an additional $1,200 for books and a monthly allowance of between $350 and $500.

Guaranteed Reserve Forces Duty (GRFD) Scholarship

This scholarship is similar to the DEDNG scholarship, but is designed for students who are entering their junior year of college. They must also join the Simultaneous Membership Program of a ROTC unit on campus.

Schools of Interest

Schools have endowments and other arrangements in place to help students with education costs. Unlike many merit based scholarships, students must apply for these through a specific application process.

Georgetown University – Mujica Graduate Student Veteran Stipend

Named after an acclaimed author who advocated on behalf of military students, this $2,000 scholarship goes only to student veterans who are enrolled in a Georgetown graduate program.

Texas A&M University – Anna and S. Ray Huffiness ’74 Military Appreciation Scholarship

This scholarship amount depends on annual funding levels. Students who register with the Veteran Service Office and are a dependent child or spouse of a veteran who is totally and permanently disabled or has been killed in action may apply for this scholarship.

University of Maryland, University College – Veterans Assistance Fund

Students who still don’t have enough money after exhausting federal financial aid and VA benefits can apply for this scholarship (up to $3,000 per year) if they are a veteran, face financial hardship and have at least a 2.5 minimum GPA.

Local VFW

The Veterans of Foreign Wars aims to help veterans and their families, which includes assisting them with education. Anyone interested in a VFW scholarship can get more information online or go to their local VFW post.

Sport Clips Help a Hero Scholarship

Multiple scholarships of up to $5,000 are possible to those who are active duty, retired or have been honorably discharged from the armed forces. Financial need will also be a major consideration for this scholarship.

American Legion

The American Legion’s mission is to support veterans and active duty service members in multiple ways, including scholarship support. Interested students can apply online and get more information from their local post.

Legacy Scholarship

The Legacy Scholarship goes to children of post-9/11 veterans who died in active duty or have been disabled. This scholarship is based on need. The award may provide up to $20,000 for graduate or undergraduate education expenses.

Samsung Scholarship

This scholarship was funded by an endowment from Samsung as a gesture of gratitude for the US soldiers who fought in the Korean War. Amounts range from $1,250 to $10,000. This is available to those who attend either the American Legion Boys State or American Legion Auxiliary Girls State programs and are direct descendants of a US military veteran that fought in a recognized conflict or war.

Specific Military Branches

Each of the major US military branches has a variety of financial programs in place for veterans. Here are a few of the numerous scholarship opportunities available directly from a student’s respective home military branch.

Airman Scholarship and Commissioning Program (ASCP)

This program provides $15,000 in scholarship money for each academic year, plus $510 per year for textbooks. To apply for this scholarship, airmen must leave active duty and enlist in the Air Force Reserve.

Sea Service Scholarship

Available to residents of Alaska, the Sea Service Scholarship provides up to four $1,000 awards for the undergraduate education of dependents of a retired, active duty or reserve member of the US Navy, Coast Guard or Marine Corps.

Spouse Education Assistance Program

Run by Army Emergency Relief and fully endorsed by the US Army, this program provides up to several thousand dollars in undergraduate scholarship money for the spouses of Army soldiers.

Nonprofit Organizations Supporting Service Members, Veterans, Families

The single biggest source of veteran (and dependent) scholarships will usually come from private, non-profit organizations. Students interested should apply directly through these organizations.

Air Force Association – Colonel Aaron Burgstein Memorial Scholarship

This $1,000 annual scholarship goes to minor dependents of active duty, veteran or retired service members who are attending an accredited post-secondary institution.

AMVETS – The AMVETS Scholarship

This scholarship goes to three recipients, who will each receive $1,000 over the course of four years. Applicant must be a veteran, active duty or reservist student.

FRA Education Foundation Scholarship

With awards of up to $5,000, students can apply for this scholarship if they have a connection to the US Navy, Coast Guard or US Marine Corps, whether through the student’s own service or that of a close family member.

Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation – Undergraduate & Associate Degree Scholarship

In addition to having at least a 2.00 GPA, students who are children of an active duty, reserve or veteran US Marine or Navy Corpsman and demonstrate financial need may apply for this scholarship. It provides $7,500 per academic year.

National Military Family Association – Military Spouse Scholarship

Any spouse of a current or former member (as long as the former service member is retired or medically retired) of the US military can apply for this scholarship. Most scholarship awards are about $1,000 and can be used for almost any educational or professional advancement program.

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society – Education Assistance Grant

These grants can range in size from between $500 and all the way up to $3,000 per academic year. Applicants must be a child or spouse of a retired, deceased or active duty Sailor or US Marine.

ThanksUSA – Helping Hand Scholarship

Granting up to $38,000 over three years, the Helping Hand Scholarship goes to dependent children or spouses of US military personnel, including veterans.

For Profit Organizations

Many companies want to make a difference in the community. Some choose to provide financial assistance to those who have served their county. These scholarships are available directly from the sponsoring organization.

Bonsai Finance Scholarship

Active duty members of the US military, veterans or their immediate dependents may apply for this scholarship. It provides a one-time payment of $2,500 for education costs.

Keller Law Offices Annual Scholarship for Military Veterans

Eligible applicants include veterans and their immediate family members. The student chosen will receive a $1,000 scholarship for use in their choice of education or training program.

Law Office of Matthew L. Sharp Annual Military Scholarship

Any military veteran or their dependent is eligible for this $1,000 scholarship that can be used at any post-secondary institution.

How to Get Veteran & Dependent Scholarships

The good news for veterans and dependents applying for a military scholarship is that there will be no competition from those not connected to the military. These scholarships can still be competitive, though, and they do require an application or additional requirements. This means anyone interested in a scholarship must take care to prepare the best application package possible. Here are some helpful steps to do just that.

Steps to Applying for Scholarships

Each scholarship application will have unique requirements. Therefore, the following steps are only a general outline for preparing the most competitive scholarship application.

  • Start as soon as possible.

    Even if the scholarship deadline is months away, getting started right away on filling out the application and gathering additional materials required for submission allows ample time to refine an essay or get the most positive letter of recommendation.

  • Identify recommenders.

    Students should choose someone who will not just write a positive letter of recommendation, but be able to write the letter in a very persuasive way. It also helps to ask someone who is very careful about deadlines. Be sure to ask in advance–it’s courteous to give your recommender plenty of time to prepare the letter. Recommenders may include mentors or leaders you had while in the military, former teachers or employers, or people you’ve come in contact while doing volunteer work.

  • Gather necessary documentation.

    Whether it’s a tax return or academic transcript, applicants must take proactive steps to obtain the supporting documents required by the scholarship. Applicants may need to “chase down” the information through follow-up emails or phone calls to get the essential documents to complete the application.

  • Write an essay.

    Not all scholarships require essays, but many of them do. Applicants will want to choose a topic they are passionate about; their interest in the subject matter will really come through.

  • Submit the scholarship on time.

    This sounds obvious, but nothing will sink a promising scholarship application faster than a tardy scholarship submission. It’s possible a late application will result in an automatic disqualification. Don’t let all that hard work go to waste by being late.

5 Tips for Getting that Scholarship

Getting a complete scholarship application submitted on time is the biggest step in getting a scholarship. Here are a few tips in boosting the chances of that scholarship award.

  • Have proof of military affiliation.

    Some scholarships may take the applicant’s word that they’re a veteran or the dependent of a veteran, but never assume this. For example, applicants may need a copy of DD Form 214 to show they not only served, but why they were discharged.

  • Engage in community service.

    One of the reasons veterans and their dependents have scholarships just for them is their willingness to serve others. One of the best ways to reinforce this idea is to serve the local community. It never hurts to have a bit of community service to mention in the scholarship application.

  • Follow the directions.

    Veterans know the importance of following orders. If some application instructions are missed, the scholarship decision committee might start second guessing the recommendation letters or the applicant’s level of commitment to service.

  • Be honest.

    Avoid the temptation to exaggerate or fudge an accomplishment. Veterans and members of the US military are perceived as having a heightened sense of honor and integrity. Never do anything to tarnish that hard-earned and well-deserved reputation.

Find More Information on Education for Military Veterans & Their Families

College is expensive, even after taking advantage of the GI Bill. Luckily, there are a variety of additional sources of financial assistance for veterans.

Another added benefit of the GI Bill is allowing eligible family members to make use of its generous financial assistance for educational purposes.

The US government provides some fairly generous financial aid offerings, but it can take additional effort to make the most of what the GI Bill has to offer.

Officially known as the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, the Forever GI Bill allows beneficiaries of the Post 9/11 GI Bill to have more time to take advantage of its benefits.

From the Expert

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?

A. The amount of aid for veterans will vary between the different benefit programs. Each program will have some exceptions or limitations on benefits. Veterans should use scholarship funds like “gap insurance” 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 scholarship funds even more important for them.

Q. Is it possible that scholarships might “clash” with their military education benefits? How can students ensure this doesn’t happen?

A. It would be very rare for scholarship funds to “clash” with military education benefits. Scholarship sponsors want their funds to be used and will make sure their awards are available to veterans and/or their dependents without any complications or conflicts with their existing military benefit programs.

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

A. The best advice to all scholarship seekers is to apply often and early. Apply for as many scholarships as possible. There are lots of scholarship awards that are available to anyone. Treat the application process like a part-time job spending a few hours each week. Winning a scholarship requires effort and discipline which should give veterans a head start.

Applying early provides a person with a better chance for their application to be seen and carefully reviewed by the selection committee. Early applications have a much better chance to create a good impression. Most students procrastinate and apply near the deadline date making it much more difficult for their application to stand out and be seen.