Financial Aid for Veterans: A Guide to Paying for Continued Education


Military veterans are eligible for several financial aid opportunities due to their service. FinAid notes that many of these programs apply to both veterans and dependents of veterans, and the National Remember Our Troops Campaign states that there are many educational, vocational, and assistance programs available for veterans.

Although many benefits available to veterans and their families have strict eligibility guidelines, many online resources exist, like the American Legion, which is dedicated to presenting up-to-date news on programs and eligibility, making the search for aid somewhat easier for veterans and their families.

GI Benefits

Introduced in 1944, the GI Bill allows qualifying veterans and veterans’ family members to receive money to cover all or part of their college education, according to The GI Bill is a federal bill. Many states, such as Wisconsin, also have GI Bills. For example, the State of Wisconsin Department of Veteran Affairs notes that eligible Wisconsin veterans are able to receive a full four-year education at no cost at any University of Wisconsin school. Eligibility can vary for state programs.

Veterans Education Success notes that the GI Bill was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt to provide benefits and aid to World War II veterans, but it also increased funding for veterans’ healthcare, provided loans to veterans, and offered educational and career counseling and opportunities that had previously not existed.

Yellow Ribbon Program

The Yellow Ribbon Program is a post-9/11 version of the GI Bill that allows veterans to attend private schools and graduate programs that exceed the previous tuition cap, according to This program, according to Colorado State University, also requires that veterans meet standardized eligibility requirement. Any qualifying children who the bill is transferred to must also meet these requirements.

Columbia University notes that to be eligible for this new iteration of the GI Bill, veterans must have served at least 90 days after September 10th, 2001 and veterans must no longer be active duty military personnel. The Yellow Ribbon Program has its own requirements but is part of the larger GI Bill system and is available as a federal program.

Armed Forces Tuition Assistance

There are also several tuition assistance programs outside of the GI Bill. New Mexico State University notes that several branches of the military, including the Coast Guard, are eligible for tuition assistance, in-state tuition (even if they are out-of-state students), and tuition caps under Federal Tuition Assistance.

Unlike the GI Bill, which is limited to veterans, this program is only open to active service members according to the University of South Dakota. Service members must apply through their own branch of the military such as the Navy, Coast Guard, Army, or Marines.

Federal Student Aid

Federal Student Aid notes that there are many options and programs available for people entering the military, active service members, and veterans when it comes to paying for a college education for themselves and their families. These options are easily accessible online, and many can be completed online as well.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs also has several tools for calculating benefits, determining eligibility, and seeing the most current news on all federal grant and aid programs for veterans. Keeping up with the most current news on benefits is important because eligibility requirements, application processes, and timelines change often.

Scholarships and Grants for the Military

There are many non-federal grants and scholarships available as well. For example, the Imagine America Foundation offers a $1,000 grant to qualifying active duty, reservist, honorably discharged, or retired veterans to attend career and vocational colleges. There are numerous grant programs available to service members at all levels of service. They include grant programs for veterans, active duty service members, and family members of veterans. UC Davis lists several.

Student Loans

Some veterans and service members may also have to take out loans to cover the cost of their education. However, there are several programs that assist with loan repayment and give preferential treatment to veterans. For example, Leave No Veteran Behind has a retroactive scholarship program that allows qualifying veterans to pay their student loans off in exchange for community service.

In addition, service members who are eligible to use their branch of service’s credit union may receive more favorable interest rates. As an example, the Navy Federal Credit Union offers both new and consolidation student loans at much better rates than many other banks or federal programs. These credit unions may also have more generous repayment plans for veterans.

Awards and Aide for Family Members

Veterans’ benefits are not only for veterans. In many cases, family and the dependents of veterans may be eligible for awards and financial aid as well. The University of North Carolina-Greensboro has a large list of local, federal, state, and non-profit programs, awards, and financial aid resources for veterans and their families. These resource lists are updated often, and may offer a larger number of opportunities to veterans and their families than federal resources alone.

The Senior Veterans Service Alliance notes that there are programs for surviving spouses of deceased military personnel and veterans, and states that there are also programs available for surviving children, including the Survivors Pension. These benefits can help children and spouses of service members killed in action or veterans who passed away due to service-related injuries receive an education while lessening their financial burden.

Additional Resources

There are many resources for veterans and their families when it comes to education funding and opportunities. Many of these resources are available to a wide number of veterans and their families and are easily accessible. In addition, most universities have a designated department of veterans’ affairs that can aid veterans and their families in navigating the application, eligibility, and qualification hurdles and paperwork.

Here are some additional resources that may be helpful: