Military veterans and their families are generally apprehensive about the ballooning rate of tuition and other expenses related to college. Because there are no clear signs about the growing cost of college coming to an end, most veteran students and their families are finding other means to fund their dreams of having a college degree. Although college student loans are viable options, these loans are relatively expensive. That is why some veterans just forego their dreams of obtaining a college education for fear of incurring large amounts of student debts.
However, the lack of holding a college degree can be detrimental. In today’s world, especially among entry-level jobs, it’s important to have some level of higher education. Pursuing college, therefore, can potentially result in struggle and poverty. Thankfully, veterans and their families have a great opportunity to earn a degree thru college scholarships.
Over the years, US colleges and institutions have experienced a steady increase in student veteran enrollees. This resulted in schools developing different study programs and services aimed at enhancing the success of a veteran in higher education. Scholarships are provided to veteran students to recognize them for their sacrifices in the armed forces.
The study grants and scholarships from the US military are all award-for-service programs. Meaning, you need to be enlisted to any of the branches of services in the US army.
Learn more! Use these page jumps to explore the country’s best Veteran Scholarships:
- What is a veteran?
- Importance of Earning a Degree as a Military Veteran
- The GI Bill
- The Top 15 College Scholarships for Veterans and their Family
- Possible Degrees that Match the Skills and Jobs of the Military
- Tips for Winning Scholarship Applications
A veteran is one who once was a member of the Armed Forces of the United States (Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Air Force, Army, or Navy) who served on active duty until discharged under several conditions other than dishonorable. To be called a veteran, there is no specific number of days a student must be on active duty. But according to the National Guard or Reserves’ enlistment, being on active duty for training does not qualify one as a veteran.
Importance of Earning a Degree as a Military Veteran
Transitioning from military life to civilian life is no walk in the park. But you have a handful of advantages to earning a college once you complete your military service. Here are the benefits of earning a degree after completing an active tour of duty in the armed forces.
- Easily Transition to Civilian Life. Most veterans attest that attending classes, joining study groups, and meeting peers help them easily transition into civilian life. When you surround yourself with fellow veterans and build a community with them, it’s easier for you to graduate and smoothly transition to civilian life.
- Better Job Opportunities. You also have better opportunities when you earn a degree after serving the army. In today’s current job market, having a degree is a great advantage. The Economic Policy Institute Washington noted that degree-holder workers far out-earned their colleagues with only a high school diploma.
- Opening Up to New Fields. When you enroll and go back to school after military service, you also give yourself the chance to learn and train in newer fields of your choice. Most military members enter the service right out of high school. Back then, these teenagers aren’t so sure as to what they want to do with their lives. Once you become a veteran, you might want to learn other skills that are initially not that appealing to you when you were still a teenager. The college years are the time you start learning skills that you can put to use in the professional field.
Also commonly referred to as the Post 9/11 GI Bill, this bill is officially called the Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 and was created to help you pay for job training or school. Although this is not officially considered a scholarship grant, this bill is one of the most successful financial assistance programs for military personnel. It was originally introduced in 1944 to help not only the active-duty and retired military personnel to afford a college degree, but also engineers, business owners, scientists, doctors, teachers, authors, and actors.
The Post 9/11 GI bill’s objective is to provide higher education opportunities to the millions of military service members who have served since September 11, 2001. This bill covers fees and tuition for in-state public undergraduate higher education for qualified veterans. For graduate education, out-of-state tuition, or private institutions, these schools may come up with an agreement with the VA wherein the VA will match the contribution of an institution to cover added costs.
Although we have seen several changes over the years, the GI Bill remains in helping military service-member and their families in achieving their professional and educational ambitions.
The Post 9/11 GI bill’s objective is to provide higher education opportunities to the millions of military service members who served since September 11, 2001. This bill covers fees and tuition for in-state public undergraduate higher education for qualified veterans. For graduate education, out-of-state tuition, or private institutions, these schools may come up with an agreement with the VA wherein the VA will match the contribution of an institution to cover added costs.
Although we have seen several changes over the years, the GI Bill remains in helping military service-member and their families in achieving their professional and educational ambitions.
The Top 15 College Scholarships for Veterans and their Family
Scholarships are provided to veterans and their families. To give recognition to people entering into the armed services, organizations, colleges, and individuals offer scholarship money to veterans and their families to thank them for their services. Below are fifteen of the largest scholarships available to veterans and their families.
- Daughters of the Cincinnati Scholarship
- The Marine Corps Scholarship
- Military Child of the Year Award
- Army Women’s Foundation Trident University Scholarship
- Texas Armed Services Scholarship Program
- Operation Enduring Freedom & Operation Iraqi Freedom Scholarship
- Capital One Military Dependent Scholarship
- American Legion Auxiliary- Spirit of Youth Scholarship
This scholarship was founded in 1894 and was started by the descendants of soldiers from the Revolutionary War. It aims to ensure that the values of the Revolutionary War are preserved and to continue to push for the study of this critical time in US History. Today, this scholarship is opened up to daughters of members of the armed services. This grant has been helping daughters of veterans achieve college education for more than a century.
The Daughters of Cincinnati awards massive support and scholarships to daughters of career commissioned officers in the US who meet specific criteria focusing on academic performance and financial capacity. If selected, student scholars receive up to $20,000 in scholarship money given to them over the whole four-year duration of their college degree program.
This scholarship started in 1962 and is one of today’s largest and oldest need-based scholarship grants to children of military personnel. For over five long decades, the foundation has funded the children of Navy Corpsmen and Marines. The Marine Corps Scholarship is provided to extraordinary students coming from families of a Navy Corpsman or a Marine. The scholar has to show impeccable academic performance and must be proven to be an excellent leader in their community. Students who are eligible for this grant can receive up to $10,000 in scholarship funds from the college or university of their choice.
Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization, founded in 2002, is the brainchild of this scholarship. Its mission is to build strong, secure, and stable military families thru its various assistance projects. At present, 92% of the group’s funding is directed towards helping military families: from schooling to financial assistance, housing, as well as other family support services.
The Military Child of the Year Scholarship is an annual awards program. It awards scholarships to 6 deserving students (representing the different branches of the armed forces) coming from a military family. These scholars are selected based on their volunteerism, community leadership, or extracurricular involvement; and are given $10,000 each for their college funding.
This scholarship was established in 1969 as the Women’s Army Corps. Fourteen years later, the Army Women’s Foundation was founded and had raised more than $400,000 in charitable contributions. Over the years, it has substantially grown into a foundation that is dedicated to army women and veterans to acknowledge their services and promote the public interest.
This scholarship program is the largest project of the Army Women’s Foundation. Each year, one lucky woman veteran is provided with a full-ride scholarship to Trident University. The scholar is awarded a scholarship worth more than $10,000 each year.
This scholarship is offered by the Texas Higher Education Board to aid students in obtaining enough funds for their educational plans. Because the board understands the additional support a student needs, they have created different programs for enrollees to help them secure the funding they need. Student loans are introduced to all students in Texas for them not to have second thoughts about enrolling in college just because of their financial incapacity.
Of the many programs, the Texas Armed Services Scholarship Program is the biggest grant for veterans and their families. This is designed to help encourage more Texas students to become members of the different branches of the armed forces. Those who are granted the scholarship have to commit to enroll in programs related to military service, and that they have to maintain high scholastic standing. A scholar is awarded $7,000 in scholarship funding for their education.
This scholarship program is offered by the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, a nonprofit public agency created to advocate and provide financial support to families and students. The organization, which celebrates the contribution and sacrifice of the country’s military personnel, offers Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom Scholar as their biggest programs to date. Qualified scholars should demonstrate outstanding academic performance for them to be granted the program. Once selected, each student will receive a scholarship fund of $7,000.
Capital One is one of the leading banking companies in the nation. In 1988, they created the Capital One Military Dependent Scholarship for veterans and their families. This is created to help military veterans obtain enough funding to send their children to college. The grant is awarded to exceptional students with ample civic engagement and impressive academic performance. If chosen, each student will receive a scholarship funding of $7,000 to any university or institution of their choosing.
The American Legion Auxiliary, established in 1919, is now the world’s biggest women’s patriotic service organization. This organization aims to honor the many sacrifices made by military service members, veterans, and their families. At present, they mentor young people, advocate for veterans, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, and peace and security. The organization’s Spirit of Youth Scholarship is their biggest scholarship for veterans and their family members. The scholarship is awarded to veteran students who have shown high academic performance, civic engagements, and community leadership. The chosen scholar will receive $5,000 in scholarship grants.
This scholarship is an umbrella that supports three different scholarship grants for participants in American Legion Auxiliary programs: the Honorary National Junior Division Vice Presidents, the American Legion Auxiliary Junior members, and the American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation program.
This scholarship is offered to several programs to qualified students in the Sacramento Region. Created by the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization aimed at philanthropic and civic works, this platform helps people to create charitable funds. Community members are provided with the needed tools to come up with a way to generate funds that they think will benefit their community the most. From there, donations and financial contributions are accepted before they make their way to relevant organizations that need funding the most.
The Graydon and Myrth Fox Scholarship was created to help people who have served the Armed Services honorably, or to their family members. The scholarship acknowledges the sacrifices that these veterans and their families make. If selected, students get to receive up to $5,000 in financial aid to help them go through college.
This is another scholarship made possible by The Funding Life Corporation on Scholarship Life. It is offered exclusively to combat medics who played critical roles in any military operation. They are trained to take care of soldiers and guarantee them that whatever may happen, these soldiers can be treated on-field when deemed necessary. One of the biggest scholarships for veterans and their families, the Combat Medic Service Scholarship, is readily available to those who have the Combat Medic Badge. Qualified veterans can enjoy $5,000 in college funding.
This grant was created by the Air Force Aid Society and was established in 1942. The Air Force Aid Society is the US Air Force’s official charity. From its inception, the AFAS has extensively worked to meet every need of every Airman and their families. Charitable contributions have aided AFAS to generate money to give to US Airmen needing educational support, financial assistance, or community programs.
The General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant is AFAS’s pillar in their education support program. Every year, scholarships are awarded to students based on their education costs and family income. The grant is designed to guarantee that the recipient gets the right amount of aid while giving scholarships to as many qualified students as possible. If granted, students can avail of a $4,000 scholarship funding.
This scholarship is an initiative of the Women in Defense-Michigan Chapter. Established in 2007, this nonprofit organization aims at providing professional development and networking opportunities for the people across Michigan working in national defense and security. WID-MI established a program in 2009 called HORIZONS, a scholarship offered to students who wish to work in the defense department. This program seeks to encourage students to obtain a college degree related to defense work. Qualified students are awarded $3,500 in scholarship funding.
This nonprofit organization is dedicated to raising money so they can help pay for the tuition of Navy personnel and their families. They generate money from donors, and the amount is solely dedicated to financially assisting Surface Navy families. Through the scholarship, the organization hopes that the families of Navy personnel will feel appreciated and understand how valued they are for the services they give to the nation.
The scholarship is awarded to any student who is a family member of somebody that took part in the Naval Surface Forces. Anybody can avail of the scholarship provided that they are a direct relative of someone who was not dishonorably discharged or one who is still in active duty within the Naval forces. Selected students are granted $3,000 that they can use in any university or college they want.
These scholarships are typically awarded based on an applicant’s character, academic performance, financial needs, and extracurricular activities. For the administered and endowed scholarships, additional criteria should be met considering not all applicants are eligible for such grants.
This grant program is made available by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, Office of the Student Financial Assistance. One of their programs is called the Public Service Grant Program and is offered to students who lost their family member in the line of duty and public service. A well-known scholarship for veterans and their families, this program is granted to students on an entitlement basis, and scholars are chosen based on their academic performance. The chosen scholar will receive $2,500 in scholarship aid. This program is the only grant not based on an applicant’s financial need. Rather, it’s of entitlement.
To qualify for this grant, a student must:
- Be a legal and permanent resident of Massachusetts for at least one year before starting the year for which this scholarship is granted.
- Be an eligible US citizen or non-citizen under the regulations of Title IV.
- Already applied for financial aid via FAFSA
- Be compliant with the Selective Service Registration
- Be free of any state or federal student loans
- Be enrolled at least 12 credits (or its equivalent) in either a certificate, an associate’s, or a bachelor’s degree program at a qualified institution
Possible Degrees That Match the Skills and Jobs of the Military
Veterans come from all walks of life, geared with a handful of skills and different educational backgrounds. Some veterans acquire skills and training while in service and can opt to major and work in practically any field. However, some careers are more natural and fitting for veterans, considering their intensive back and experience before they become veterans.
- Criminal Justice. Most student veterans and service members are easily attracted to law enforcement and criminal justice because even if they have already left the service, there is still that inner desire to hone and use their skills in serving and protecting. Thus, getting a criminal justice degree gives them better chances of landing a good position in the job market.
- The Medical Field. Most veterans are trained to have basic medical care skills, and develop these skills even further during the course of their service. Upon completing their tour of duty, going for a degree in nursing and the likes is a wise move.
- Information Technology and Computer Science. The military has sophisticated technology, and over the years, it has continued to work intensively in modernizing its networks and systems. Thus, having a degree in computer science can help student veterans in building more on the skills they have learned. Plus, the careers waiting in this field of study is very lucrative.
- Business. At some point, veterans learn and acquire management skills during their service. They must learn these skills as they are expected to lead teams, operations, and projects. If you’re someone planning to own a business, then a degree in business administration is a good move.
- Aviation. Those military service members who have learned the dynamics of aeronautics and aviation in their military training can opt for a degree related to aviation like an aircraft maintenance engineer or an air traffic controller.
- Construction Engineering. There will be a significant increase in science, technology, and engineering jobs in the next five years. You’ve already laid the groundwork for a career as a construction engineer if you’ve worked as a combat engineer or a mechanic. After all, you probably spent a significant portion of your military career constructing things.
ALSO READ: 15 Top Civil Servant Degrees
Tips for Winning Scholarship Applications
It’s relatively easy to search for scholarships that best fit your interest. The challenge is how to win one. Snag the best veteran scholarship application with these tips.
- Start with the smaller scholarships. Most students look for study grants offering bigger grants. However, bigger grants mean they are almost always in demand and competitive. On the other hand, smaller grants are easier to win because only a few students compete for them.
- Personalize your essay. In most cases, scholarship judges can easily tell if your essay is submitted to meet the grant’s criteria. It’s wise to have your essay personalized. Start it off by showcasing your personality, making sure that you will stand out. Here are some more tips when writing personalized essays:
- Do not attempt to guess what the reader wants to hear.
- Feel free to be amusing or creative – but don’t go too far.
- Tell us something we don’t already know.
- Ask for input (but not too much).
- Edit, proof, polish and breathe.
- Submit your applications early. Don’t wait until it’s the due date. Follow instructions properly. If the scholarship organizations say they prefer applications send in thru mail, don’t email it. Or, if the essay has a specified word count limit, avoid going over it. Most grant providers get so many qualified applications than their actual available funds. To avoid reducing the risks of you getting disqualified, follow the requirements and instructions properly.