How to Pay for College If You Are a Military Veteran
By: K.P. Kulski
Veterans have several routes for financial assistance beyond Veterans Affairs (VA) programs of the GI Bill or Vocational Rehabilitation (Ch. 31). Scholarships that can make college an even more affordable option and there are an increasing number of awards created specifically for veterans. Further, many of these can be awarded to veteran students who also qualify for VA benefits to further help reduce costs. This can be particularly useful if your benefits do not cover the entire cost of school or you need additional assistance.
Scholarship programs and their requirements vary widely. Some are sponsored through organizations and others through specific colleges. If you are a veteran with a VA disability rating, you will find there are scholarships that aim to ease your transition into the civilian workforce. These programs see education as a path for retraining in a field that works with your particular disability.
There are a plethora of scholarship and grant funds out there including ones sponsored by state governments. You may find there are many non-veteran awards that you are qualified to receive as well as veteran specific ones. Bottom line is to do your research and be willing to contribute some time in the various application processes.
Here are a few examples of veteran awards to get you started:
General Veteran Scholarship
VFW/Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship
Created through the partnership of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization and Sport Clips Corporation, this scholarship awards up to $5000 a semester to qualified applicants.
State Funded Awards
Check with your local veterans assistance office, you may just find that your state has tuition benefits or scholarships for resident veterans. Here are some examples:
New York Veteran Tuition Awards (VTA)
Residents of New York who served during specifically listed wartimes are eligible for state funded tuition assistance.
Louisiana National Guard Tuition
Guard members of Louisiana do not pay tuition at any state funded college. This program covers the cost of a bachelor’s degree.
The American Legion
Non-Traditional Student Scholarship
To qualify for membership to the American Legion, veteran service must have been during wartime. This includes veterans who have served from the Gulf War to present day. Members have access to the Non-Traditional Student Scholarship, which awards up to $2000.
Colorado State University/Liniger Family Scholarship
For combat veteran students who are attending Colorado State University, this scholarship will award up to $2500 a semester to qualified recipients.
Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
If you’ve ever been interested in becoming a gemologist the GIA Scholarship Fund for U.S. Veterans is for you. Veterans can qualify for up to $1500 to help with the cost of education in one of GIA’s learning programs.
If you have a VA disability rating of 50% or more, you may meet the qualifications of the Sentinels of Freedom Scholarship (SoFS). An organization interested in assisting post 9/11 disabled veterans in their transition to civilian life, this scholarship assists with tuition, housing as well as job finding assistance following the achievement of a degree.
If you are thinking about the IT field and have qualified a disability rating with the VA, you are eligible to join the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). This organization specializes in the younger generation of veterans who have serviced during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They offer Training Transition Academy (TTA) which offers no-coast IT training through WWP offices as well as via distance learning.