When an active duty member of the U.S. armed forces becomes a veteran, it unlocks a level of state and national benefits in a variety of areas. From life insurance to mortgage assistance, these benefits ensure that veterans get the assistance and care necessary to get back on their feet easily. One of the greatest benefits that a veteran can take advantage of is easier access to higher education.
There are a number of programs and organizations that work hard to help veterans acclimate to college life, whether that’s through tuition assistance, credits for military experience or special housing and lounges in which to foster community. One of the largest programs for veterans that expands across colleges all over the country is the GI Bill.
The GI Bill has been in existence since 1944, and it allows veterans to receive some or all of the money they need to cover tuition for degree and/or certification programs. There is also a Post-9/11 GI Bill that extends education benefits to those serving in more recent conflicts. To qualify, veterans must have:
• Served at least 90 days active duty (either all at once or with breaks between service).
• Received a Purple Heart or an Honorable Discharge after any amount of service days.
• Served for at least 30 continuous days and were honorable discharged with a service-connected disability.
The Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty is available to those veterans that have served at least two years on active duty. Through this program, veterans can expect up to 36 months of education benefits. The Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve offers 36 months of education benefits to members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard Reserve, Army National Guard, or Air National Guard.
Finally, veterans take advantage of education benefits through the Yellow Ribbon Program
. According to the Veterans Affairs website
, the Yellow Ribbon Program allows “institutions of Higher Learning (Degree Granting Institutions)…to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program to make additional funds available for [your] education program without an additional charge to your GI Bill entitlement.”
Essentially, the institution is able to determine how much they will contribute to a veterans
total cost of attending and the VA will match that. Some schools, like Drexel University
, decide to just foot the entire amount. To see which schools in your state participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, check out their website
Some states have taken veterans education benefits even further. These states will actually cover all tuition costs (and sometimes fees) for veterans. Each state varies on qualifications in order to redeem these benefits. Check out these generous benefits for free college for veterans by state:
Veterans that reside in the state of Connecticut are able to attend state regional community and technical colleges as well as state universities using a tuition waiver.
To qualify, veterans must have served 90 days active duty during a period of war, have been accepted into an approved institution and be a Connecticut resident at the time of admission acceptance.
Illinois veterans can take advantage of free tuition and fees at state colleges, universities and community colleges through the Illinois Veterans’ Grant.
In order to qualify, veterans must be honorably discharged, live in Illinois six months prior to joining the service, have at least one full year of active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and return to Illinois as a resident within six months of discharge from service.
In Massachusetts, veterans are eligible for for any state-supported course in an undergraduate degree or certificate program offered through a public college or university. In addition to being a legal resident, veterans cannot be in default of any other federal student loans.
Montana offers free tuition benefits for veterans within the Montana University system.
To qualify, veterans must have been honorably discharged from one of the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, be a legal resident of the state of Montana and must maintain satisfactory academic progress while enrolled.
Veterans education benefits in South Dakota enable veterans to take undergraduate courses at state universities without paying for tuition.
Veterans must be discharged under honorable conditions, be a current resident of South Dakota and served on active duty between August 2, 1990 and now. Those that are eligible can receive one month of free tuition for each month of "qualifying service" with a minimum of one, up to a maximum of four, academic years.
In Texas, veterans can receive tuition for up to 150 credit hours of tuition as well as most required fees at a state-supported college or university.
In order to qualify for these benefits, veterans must be a resident of Texas at the time they enter military service, have served at least 181 days, have been honorably discharged and not be in default on federal education loans.
In Wisconsin, veterans are able to take advantage of free tuition and fees benefits. Veterans who were a Wisconsin resident at the start of active duty – but who are no longer legal residents now – still qualify for veteran education benefits.
Finally, Wyoming offers eight semester of free tuition and fee waivers to veterans at community colleges and University of Wyoming campuses.
Additionally, most states in the country provide tuition
waivers to spouses and/or children of veterans who were either killed in action or missing in action. Each state has different policies so it’s important to check the respective state’s veterans affairs website.
Whatever the circumstances or dynamics, there are veteran education benefits to help assist veterans and their families, especially as they transition from active duty to civilian life. After all of their brave and self-less service, these opportunities exist in order to serve them.