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Financial aid for veterans

Find out if you qualify for funding through the GI Bill — plus explore other options.

GI funding for school is one of the main perks of joining the military. You can qualify for these funds if you served as little as 90 days — or less if you received a Purple Heart or were injured during your service. If your GI benefits don’t cover the full cost, there are several other scholarships you can apply for — with typical awards between $1,000 and $3,000 a year.

Post 9/11 GI Bill financial aid programs

The Post 9/11 GI Bill offers financial aid programs to veterans through the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These programs can cover full or partial tuition, as well as a monthly housing allowance and annual book stipend for an undergraduate or graduate degree program — in addition to non-degree job training such as a licensing program or apprenticeship. Rural residents can also receive a one-time benefit. You can only enroll in one program at a time and receive a total of four years of funding.

You can apply online through the VA website. Typically, it takes about 30 days to process your claim.

Can I qualify for Post 9/11 GI Bill educational assistance?

You must meet one of the following requirements to be eligible for an educational assistance program through the Post 9/11 GI bill:

  • Served at least 90 days on active duty after September 10, 2001
  • Honorably discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days of service after September 10, 2001
  • Received a Purple Heart after September 10, 2001 and was honorably discharged
  • Dependent child using benefits transferred by an eligible veteran or service member

How much funding can I get?

That depends on where you go to school, the program you enroll in and how long you served.

Maximum funding amounts

Here’s the maximum you can get for different types of programs:

Type of financial assistanceMaximum funding amount
Public school tuition and feesFully funded for an in-state school
Private or foreign school tuition and feesUp to $24,476.79 per academic year
Non-degree institutionUp to $24,476.79 for an in-state school
Vocational flight schoolUp to $13,986.72 per academic year
Correspondence schoolUp to $11,888.70 per academic year
Licensing and certification test fees
  • National tests: No maximum
  • Licensing and certification tests: Up to $2,000
Monthly housing allowance (MHA)The same as the military basic housing allowance (BHA) for an E-5 pay grade with dependents per year. But there are a few exceptions:
  • Foreign schools: Up to $1,789 per month
  • Online degree programs: Up to $894.50 per month
Apprenticeship and on-the-job trainingBetween 20% and 100% of your MHA, depending on the length of your program.
Books and supplies$1,000 per year
Relocation or travel from a rural areaOne-time payment of up to $500
What percentage of the benefit can I receive?

Depending on your length of service, you might not be eligible for full benefits. Here’s how it breaks down:

Length of service after September 10, 2001Percentage of maximum benefit
36+ months100%
30 to 35 months90%
24 to 29 months80%
18 to 23 months 70%
12 to 17 months60%
6 to 11 months50%
3 to 5 months40%

You’re eligible for 100% of the benefit if you were discharged due to a service-related disability after 30 continuous days of service. Purple Heart recipients are also eligible for the full benefit regardless of how much time you’ve served.

Get additional funding through the Yellow Ribbon Program

If you’re eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, you might be able to get more funding through the Yellow Ribbon Program for out-of-state or private school tuition. The program will match the scholarships and grants you receive from your school to cover tuition and fees.

To qualify, you must be eligible for the full maximum benefit under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Your school also must participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program and have enough funding available.

6 more financial aid programs for veterans

If the GI Bill isn’t enough — or you just can’t qualify — consider these scholarships instead.

AMVETS Scholarship

  • Award amount: $1,000 a year — up to four years
  • Eligibility requirements: Proof of veteran or active-duty status, US citizen, demonstrate financial need, high school diploma or equivalent, enrolled or accepted to an eligible program, no defaults on federal loans, no drug convictions, no dishonorable discharges

American Veterans (AMVETS) awards this small scholarship to three veterans or active-duty service members each year. If you qualify, you can use the funds for part-time or full-time undergraduate courses, graduate courses, accredited degree or certificate programs, or online programs.

To apply, you must submit documents verifying your eligibility, in addition to a short essay. You can apply between January 20th and April 30th for the 2020 scholarship cycle. Recipients will be announced on June 20, 2020.

Dr. Aurelio M. Caccomo Family Foundation Memorial Scholarship

  • Award amount: $3,000 a year — up to four years
  • Eligibility requirements: Same as AMVETS’s requirements

Also available through AMVETS, this program works a lot like the AMVETS Scholarship but with higher funding amounts — and only two veterans receive the funds each year. The application process and eligibility requirements are the same as the regular AMVETS Scholarship.

NBCC Foundation Military Scholarship

  • Award amount: $8,000
  • Eligibility requirements: Currently enrolled in a Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)-accredited master’s-level counseling program in good standing, veteran with an honorable discharge or active-duty service member, on track to graduate within three years of receiving funding

The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) Foundation offers this scholarship to five veterans, service members or family of service members per academic year. To qualify, you must be in a counseling-related program.

You also must commit to become a National Certified Counselor (NCC) before graduation, and agree to serve veterans and service members for at least two years after graduating. You can apply online through the NBCC website.

Society of Sponsors of the US Navy Centennial Scholarship Program

  • Award amount: $3,000 per academic year
  • Eligibility requirements: Combat-wounded veteran of the Marine Corps or Navy injured either during Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation New Dawn; enrolled full time in an accredited college or university; pursuing a teaching degree or license; maintain a 2.5 GPA or higher

Former Marines and Navy veterans pursuing a teaching degree are eligible for this scholarship, as long as you were injured during one of three military operations.

You can apply at any time during the academic year by mailing in your completed paper application, official transcript, active-duty release form (DD Form 214) and an essay. You can receive funding for multiple years, but you need to reapply each year to qualify.

Sarah A. Bonnifield Vietnam Veterans Scholarship Fund

  • Award amount: $1,000
  • Eligibility requirements: Vietnam veteran or relative pursuing a degree at an accredited university

If you or a family member served in Vietnam, you might be eligible for this scholarship program. You’ll need to provide two letters of recommendation and an essay on the roles and significance of the US Air Force in Vietnam, in addition to proof of service. Applications are due on March 6, 2020.

43d Infantry Division Veterans Association Scholarship

  • Award amount: $1,000 a year
  • Eligibility requirements: Member of the 43rd Infantry Division Veterans Association in good standing or a family member

Each year, the 43rd Infantry Division Veterans Association awards four members or their family members this scholarship to cover education-related expenses. You can request an application form by writing to the scholarship fund or emailing

What are my other options?

Chances are you won’t be able to cover all of your costs with scholarships specifically for veterans — especially if you don’t qualify for GI Bill funding. You might want to consider these options as well:

  • Need-based grants. Schools and private organizations typically offer these funds based on financial need, and you don’t need to be a veteran to qualify.
  • Merit-based scholarships. You can also find funding from your school and private organizations based on your academic achievement or talent — like athletics or music. Check out our A-to-Z list of scholarship programs to get started.
  • Work-study. The federal government and some schools offer work-study programs where you can cover part of your cost of attendance (COA) with wages from a qualifying on- or off-campus job.
  • Federal loans. After exhausting aid you don’t have to repay, consider applying for a student loan from the Department of Education. These tend to be less expensive than private loans with more flexible repayment options.
  • Private student loans. When you’ve applied for federal loans and still need more funding, a private lender might be able to cover the rest of your COA.

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Bottom line

Your best bet for funding a degree as a veteran is applying for educational assistance through the Post 9/11 GI bill. If that doesn’t cover your full COA, you might be able to qualify for smaller amounts of funding through scholarships specifically available to veterans. But you might also want to check out our guide to student loans to learn more about your funding options.

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