Being in the military is no walk in the park. Military personnel goes through rigid training that requires hard work, courage, determination, and perseverance. Many of them never thought of going to college, and the military has become their next logical step of action after high school graduation.
In recent years, the government strengthened its efforts to encourage veterans and active duty personnel to go back to school. This is owing to the staggering statistics that pertain to military veterans and education. Around 68% of the 5.1 million veterans who were on active duty post-9/11 do not hold a bachelor’s degree! The government aims to turn this around by offering handsome educational benefits for military veterans.
When talking about the barriers to pursuing a college degree, veterans often point to the high demand and expectations of attending higher education. The reasons vary, including, but not limited to, the sticker price, high academic selectivity, or elite campus culture. There is also limited knowledge of the veterans’ part of the school choices they have at their disposal. Some institutions are not veteran-friendly and disallow army personnel from sending in their applications.
On a pleasant note, veterans have the potential for success at high-graduation rate institutions, according to a report detailing the student outcomes of student veterans that used the Post-9/11 GI Bill. They are 1.4 times more likely to earn a certificate or degree compared to adult learners, boasting a GPA of 3.34.
Education Benefits for Military Veterans
The Department of Veterans Affairs designed the GI Bill to encourage veterans to prepare for a rewarding career through training and education. Qualified veterans are entitled to get the financial support that will cover all or some of the costs for schools and training.
There are two types of the GI Bill – the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 Bill. The former was enacted for veterans of World War II, which later on got rebranded into the Montgomery GI Bill in 1984. The bill is geared towards discharged veterans who served for at least two years. A set amount is set every month, covering student expenses such as tuition, housing, books, and other school fees.
These 36 months of benefits should be redeemed within ten years from the last day of active duty. The amount of benefits varies depending on the length of service and the type of chosen education.
The Post-9/11 Bill, on the other hand, is for veterans who served for at least 90 days after September 10, 2011. Unlike the old GI Bill, this program extends the educational benefits to veterans and active-duty soldiers alike. Active duty members are entitled to these benefits for 36 months. Veterans who are honorably discharged can claim the benefits within 15 years.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers a wealth of benefits, covering all tuition and fees. However, this can largely depend on the length of service and the choice of school. Veterans who have served a minimum of three years can avail of the full benefits. Those who only rendered 90 days of service are entitled to 40% of the total tuition fee coverage.
Apart from the GI Bill, military veterans and active-duty soldiers can also benefit from various scholarships especially offered for them. These scholarships are often available to those who have served, whether they are in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, or Coast Guard. Most of the scholarships and grants are supported by the Federal government as well as military associations, universities, and private donors.
Veterans and active military personnel can take advantage of these opportunities to learn new skills, develop professionally, and gain a solid footing when they retire from the service. Acquiring a degree can significantly help them achieve this.
What Degrees Do Military Veterans Often Pursue?
It is challenging to think about what happens next post-military. For many veterans, pursuing a college degree becomes the first logical step. This will give them a good foundation when they finally transition to civilian life. Exploring their career options is a good start. So, what are the degrees with great career earning potential?
Computer Science and Information Technology
The modern-day military job is closely linked to computers. Most veterans have a basic understanding of computers and might even be exposed to IT-related work while in the service so that it won’t be such a hard transition to the degree proper. A career in information technology and computer science can open many doors to jobs in the tech field.
Another ideal degree for military personnel is cybersecurity. This program involves programming and statistics, ethics, and computer forensics. Cybersecurity is an essential part of many modern businesses, and lead to career opportunities as IT consultant, cybersecurity consultant, information systems manager, and many more.
Business and Management
Veterans are well-suited to business and management careers because their leadership and communication skills are well-trained in the service. Degrees like Accounting, Business Administration, Finance, and others are ideal for them. Management is another field in which they can truly excel. They might have experienced being tasked with managing people, finances, supplies, and equipment for military missions. This field offers a logical transition for many veterans who want a rewarding career in civilian life.
To veterans and military personnel who want to pursue higher education, here are some scholarships that they can choose from:
Military Benefit Association 2020 Scholarship Program
A non-profit association that promotes the economic welfare of current and former service members, federal employees, and their families, the Military Benefit Association has been serving its members in the last 60 years.
One of its programs is the Military Benefit Association 2020 Scholarship Program designed to benefit MBA members and their loved ones with college expenses. It was founded in 2001 and has since awarded almost $500,000 in scholarships. The scholarship program is funded entirely through the MBA corporate programs.
In 2020, the MBA plans to award twenty $2,300 college scholarships for the academic year. Those who are entitled to the program include MBA members who are veterans, having separated from service as of the application deadline. MBA members are part of the National Guard, and Reservists are also qualified for this scholarship program.
Heroes Fund Scholarship
Another educational benefit for veterans is the Heroes Fund Scholarship. The Liberty University launches this program as a sign of gratitude and appreciation for wounded military service members who have given so much for the country’s freedom. It is fully funded by generous private donations from the university’s supporters.
The scholarship is open to service members and honorably discharged Gulf War veterans from 1990 to present day—in Desert Shield, Desert Storm, OEF & OIF—who wish to pursue their first higher education degree.
The requirements for eligible servicemen include one of the following: being a recipient of the prestigious Purple Heart; rated 50-100% disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs for a “combat-related” Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); Rated 50-100% disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs for “combat-related” injury, illness, or condition; or a spouse was killed in action during one of the Gulf Wars.
The scholarship program only applies to a specific set of degree levels. Doctorate-level degrees and certificates are not included. Also exempted are applicants who have already earned a degree from another institution or another degree from Liberty University.
Yellow Ribbon Program
A provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program aims to help students attend expensive private schools at little or no cost to themselves. Since the Post-9/11 GI Bill payments at private schools are limited to a national maximum amount mandated by law, which rarely covers the full tuition costs and additional fees, the Yellow Ribbon Program was created to supplement it.
It is available to degree-granting institutions in the US, allowing them to entirely fund tuition and fee expenses that exceed the thresholds of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The Veterans Affairs will then match the amount of the waiver and contribute it to the said tuition. Qualified participants in the program include service members who rendered an aggregate period of active duty for at least 36 months after September 10, 2001, and received an honorable discharge. This program also covers military members who were honorably discharged from active duty for a service-connected disability.
Veterans must enroll in participating in higher learning institutions to avail of this educational benefit. Some of the universities available with the Yellow Ribbon Program include New York University, Columbia University, Liberty University, University of Vermont, and many more.
Scholarships for Outstanding Airmen to ROTC (SOAR)
ROTC programs often offer scholarship opportunities for ROTC cadets, covering the costs for tuition, fees, and textbooks for four years. Some may even be eligible for a monthly stipend that they can use for personal expenses.
To be able to attain these scholarship programs, one must take ROTC elective courses along with their regular courses. ROTC classes may include the history, structure, and function of the military branch. Participants will also be required to take part in special programs, camps, and competitive “challenges” courses.
One prominent ROTC scholarship program is the Scholarships for Outstanding Airmen to ROTC (SOAR). This program allows enlisted personnel to take a leave from active duty and receive a scholarship worth up to $18,000 per academic year to pursue an undergraduate degree and a commission through Air Force ROTC. Selected applicants will be required to enroll in Air Force ROTC program as a cadet while being full-time college students.
The scholarship program entitles them to an annual textbook allowance and a monthly stipend. Upon completing the program and earning an undergraduate degree, scholars will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Air Force.
American Veterans (AMVETS) Scholarships
The American Veterans, better known as AMVETS, have been providing annual scholarships to veterans and active military personnel, including their sons, daughters, and grandchildren. This scholarship is awarded based on academic excellence and financial need. Veterans who want to pursue higher education are eligible for this scholarship program. AMVETs award three $4,000 scholarships for veterans, with $1,000 a year of a four-year undergraduate program or certificate/degree from an accredited technical or trade school.
The American Veterans Scholarships are funded through the National Service Foundation (NSF) and donations. One scholarship program under AMVETs is made possible with the corporate grant from the Lowe’s Companies, Inc. Student veterans and their spouses who are undergraduate juniors and seniors and currently study computer science could apply for the Lowe’s + AMVETS Technology Scholarships.
Requirements for interested applicants include US citizenship, proof of active duty status or veteran status, high school diploma or GED, demonstrated financial need, and admission or acceptance to a specific degree program.
Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship
The Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship program was launched by the Veterans Affairs to aid qualified students in high demand STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. This program aims to provide additional assistance to Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits (to a maximum of $30,000) to qualifying Veterans and Fry Scholars. Applicants must be those who seek an undergraduate STEM degree. Those who have earned a STEM degree but want to pursue a teaching certificate are also qualified.
Eligible applicants include veterans or Fry Scholars who are enrolled in a STEM degree program. They must have completed at least 60 semester credit hours. The program prioritizes those who are entitled to 100% of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and those who require the most credit hours. If the applicant is already availing of the Yellow Ribbon Program, this VA won’t be able to match the waived amount from universities.
This scholarship program is a provision of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act (Forever GI Bill).
Green to Gold Scholarship Programs
Designed for enlisted soldiers in the Army, the Green to Gold Scholarship Program gives opportunities to interested soldiers to pursue a baccalaureate or graduate degree and earn a commission as an Army Officer.
The Green to Gold Scholarship Option is created explicitly for soldiers who are considering leaving Active Duty to attend college. They are entitled to full tuition or room and board (capped), flat rate book payment, and a monthly stipend.
There is also an option for soldiers who want to remain on active duty while attending college called the Green to Gold Active Duty Option Program. Eligible participants will continue to receive their current pay and allowances while in the program for a maximum of 24 consecutive months.
Qualified applicants may also be entitled to Montgomery G.I. Bill / Army College Fund (MGIB/ACF) benefits. They may also be qualified for more incentives offered by particular universities and colleges.
Raytheon Patriot Scholarship
The partnership between the Student Veterans of America and Raytheon Missiles and Defense (RMD) has resulted in the launching of the Raytheon Patriot Scholarship. This program provides two $10,000 scholarships to student veterans who have demonstrated a commitment and passion for their chosen field of study. They must also have demonstrated leadership and engagement within their community.
Named after RMD’s Patriot Air and Missile Defense System, the scholarship program is exclusive to US Army veterans who wish to pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree at an accredited four-year college or university. The qualified veterans should receive an honorable discharge and must be a veteran in good standing.
For application, interested applicants should include their transcripts, letter of recommendation, and an optional 1 to 2-minute video that gives ample information on the applicant’s background, military experience, and career plans.
2020 NBC Universal SVA Scholarship
Another scholarship from the Student Veterans of America is the 2020 NBC Universal SVA Scholarship. This time, this effort and initiative are made possible through their partnership with NBC Universal. It is a part of their commitment to providing a secure and competitive advantage in the media and entertainment industry.
The scholarship awards two $12,000 scholarships to student veterans. Eligible applicants must meet the following criteria: pursuing an associate, bachelor’s, or graduate degree from an accredited two-year or four-year institution of higher learning, located in the United States; enrolled for a 2020-2021 academic year; have a GPA of at least 3.0, and proof of military service. The applicant must also be enrolled in an accredited US institution of higher education.
In partnership with Google, the Student Veterans of America established a scholarship for student veterans who pursue a degree in the field of computer science called the Google-SVA Scholarship. The program offers eight scholarships for $10,000. The recipients are also invited to attend the Google Scholars’ Retreat in 2020, providing a valuable networking opportunity for top students from all over the country and Canada.
Eligible student veterans must be currently enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student at an accredited four-year university for the current academic year. They must maintain a strong academic performance. They are also required to be current student veterans, including members of the National Guard or Reserve.
Apart from the Computer Science degree students, those pursuing related technical disciplines are also eligible. Software Engineering, Computer engineering, Electrical Engineering, Information Systems, Information Technology, Applied Networking, and Systems Administration students are welcome to apply.
AFCEA War Veterans Scholarships
A member-based, non-profit association for professionals, the AFCEA Educational Foundation provides academic support to US military personnel. The scholarships are made possible in part by generous contributions from AFCEA’s Northern Virginia Chapter.
The foundation offers merit-based scholarships of $2,500 to be awarded to active duty personnel in the uniformed military services and honorably discharged US military veterans, including Reservists and National Guard personnel. They must be deployed abroad in support of one of the Overseas Contingency Operations. This includes Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, Operation Inherent Resolve, and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
To be qualified, veterans and active-duty personnel must be currently enrolled in an undergraduate program, either part-time or full-time, in an applicable STEM major degree at an accredited four-year college or university in the US. Those who pursue their degrees in distance-learning or online programs affiliated with a major U.S. institution may also be eligible to apply.
Some of the supported academic programs include Biometry/Biometrics, Computer Engineering, Computer Forensics Science, Computer Programming, Computer Science, Computer Systems, Cybersecurity, Electrical Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Geospatial Science, and Information Science.
Ankin Law Military Scholarship
The Ankin Law Office, devoted to helping victims recover from auto and workplace personal injury accidents, has launched the Ankin Law Military Scholarship for US military veterans. Applicants must submit an essay focusing on a given topic.
The scholarship awards $1,000 to qualified recipients. Applicants must be a citizen of the United States, a military veteran of the US Armed Forces, and enrolled in an accredited community college or university to an undergraduate or graduate degree. Those who are pursuing trade and vocational programs also qualify. The primary requirement for application is an essay of 1,000 words or less on a particular topic. This should be published on the applicant’s personal or student blog or a university website. Proof of military service is also required. Veterans should be honorably discharged to qualify for the scholarship.
The Ankin Law Military Scholarship is for tuition and books only and paid directly to the recipient’s educational institution.
Army Staff Sgt. Special Agent Richard S. Eaton Jr. Scholarship
The Lint Center for National Security Studies, Inc. has granted 57 scholarship awards to deserving army veterans since 2007. One of them is the Army Staff Sgt. Special Agent Richard S. Eaton Jr. Scholarship, dedicated in honor of Sgt. Richard Eaton, who was a United States Army Counterintelligence Special Agent and Bronze Star recipient who died in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, on August 12, 2003.
The recipient of this scholarship award is entitled to $1,000. Qualified applicants must enroll in programs focusing on counterintelligence, national security issues, alliance building, and cultural understanding or related fields. They should also include a current resume, proof of enrollment, college transcripts, two recommendations, and an 800-word essay that details a critical national security issue.
AWFDN Legacy Scholarship Program
As the premier volunteer organization for today’s Army women and veterans, the Army Women’s Foundation is dedicated to empowering and honoring women soldiers, past and present. They believe in the importance of education, hence the establishment of The Legacy Scholarship Program.
This program provides grants to qualified recipients and offers financial support in four areas: Certificate programs, Community College coursework, Undergraduate Degrees, and Graduate Degrees. The scholarship programs are awarded only for coursework from accredited institutions.
They are also based on merit, academic potential, community service, letters of recommendation, and need. There are two available scholarships: the Community College and Certificate Program Legacy Scholarships, which awards up to $1,000 and the College, University, and Graduate Program Legacy Scholarships, which awards up to $2,500.
These scholarships are exclusive for women military personnel who have served or are still serving honorably in the US Army, US Army Reserve, Army National Guard. They must also be enrolled at an accredited college or university and have completed 30 hours of course work with a minimum GPA of 3.0 or better. The selections are made by a Scholarship Committee appointed by the Board of Directors of the US Army Women’s Foundation.
FRA Education Foundation Scholarships
The Fleet Reserve Association is committed to helping service members, veterans, and their families achieve a stable future through the help of education. They have longstanding advocacy for enhanced DoD and VA education benefits. One of their initiatives is the establishment of the FRA Education Foundation Scholarships to support the needs of individuals pursuing higher education.
The foundation sponsors a generous scholarship program that helps deserving students reach their educational and professional goals. The scholarship awards up to $5,000 each year to recipients based on financial need, academic standing, character, and leadership qualities. Those who are eligible for application include students affiliated with the US Navy, US Marine Corps, and US Coast Guards.
Their list of scholarships includes Glenn F. Glezen Scholarship, Robert W. Nolan Scholarship, Joseph R. Baranski Scholarship, Robert. M. Treadwell Annual Scholarship, Mercer, and many more.
Hill & Ponton Veterans’ Scholarship
The Hill & Ponton Disability Attorneys has been representing veterans for decades. To give back, even more, they have also established the Hill & Ponton Veterans’ Scholarship to help veterans further their education and prepare for a financially stable future.
Four recipients will be entitled to a $1,000 scholarship award, two will be awarded in the spring and another two in the fall. Applicants must be veterans of the armed forces and are planning to use their education to help fellow veterans. They are required to provide their personal information and a statement of 300 words or fewer on how they will be using education toward helping veterans. The scholarship award will be paid directly to the applicant’s schools.
Paralyzed Veterans of America
A leading advocate for veterans since 1946, the Paralyzed Veterans of America also invest in higher education for veterans with their scholarship grant. Their Educational Scholarship Program is open to PVA members and their immediate family.
The scholarship will award $2,500 full-time students and $1,000 part-time students for the current academic year. Those who are qualified to apply include a PVA member who has accepted and enrolled as a part-time or full-time student in an accredited US college or university.
This education assistance aims to help veterans gain a solid footing in their post-military life by allowing them to pursue a degree and carve a successful career for themselves.
Pat Tillman Foundation Scholarship
The Pat Tillman Foundation offers scholarships for military service members, veterans, and spouses. They are chosen based on the following qualities: their dedication to service, intellectual growth, humble leadership, and impact on society at large.
The Pat Tillman Foundation Scholarship includes annual funding for academic expenses, including tuition, books, and living expenses. It is open to veteran and active duty service members from all branches of the military, including those who served in the National Guard and Reserves. They must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree at a public or private, US-based accredited institution.
Requirements include current resume, two 400-word essays based on prompts provided in the application, financial worksheet, character recommendation from a third-party, biography of not more than 250 words, student aid report, and an institutional financial aid award letter.
Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship
A joint partnership and effort between the Student Veterans of America and Sport Clips Haircuts, the Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship is established to help veterans further their education.
This program provides service members and veterans with the financial assistance they need to complete their educational goals without incurring excessive student loan debt. It grants recipients with up to $5,000, restricted for tuition and fees only. It will be directly paid to accredited schools.
Eligible applicants must be citizens of the United States, retired, honorably discharged, active duty, or a member of the National Guard or Reserve. They must have completed basic training and follow-on training, demonstrate a need for financial assistance and accepted or currently enrolled in a VA-approved program or school at an accredited post-secondary institution.
Council of College and Military Educators
An active proponent for the professional development of those serving in the military education community, the Council of College and Military Educators offers $1,000 scholarships each year to the United States Service members, including active duty and veterans, who are pursuing their higher education degrees.
Applicants must be enrolled in an educational program at an accredited institution. It is open for undergraduate and graduate degree seekers who submit an accomplished CCME Scholarship Application, transcripts, two recommendation forms, and an essay. The scholarship fund is strictly used for higher education tuition and fees.
The organization chooses its recipients under three categories: Joe King Scholarship (for Uniformed Service members), Loretta Cornett-Huff Scholarships (for spouses), and the Veteran Scholarship.