Earning an advanced degree or graduate-level certificate is expensive regardless of your educational path. If you’re a veteran just out of the military, paying for college can be a significant hurdle as you transition to civilian life. Fortunately, there are many funding resources veterans can tap into to help pay for their graduate education. You’re probably the most familiar with the GI Bill, but other funding opportunities may include work study programs, employer tuition reimbursement programs, scholarships, and of course student loans.
Scholarships are critical to supporting military servicemen and women as they advance into a post-service career or field, most importantly because they don’t require repayment. This guide introduces you to the numerous scholarship opportunities available for veterans. You’ll also find valuable tips on how to increase your chances of winning those scholarships along with links to other helpful veteran education resources to help you succeed in your post-service education and career.
Some scholarships for veterans are specific to a particular branch of service while others are open to veterans of all branches. Additionally, some are available to veterans and active-duty military only while others are also open to their family members as well. Below are descriptions of scholarship opportunities available to veterans to help them pay for their master-level or above education and propel them into advancement both in the military and after service. Since you’re not limited to the number of scholarships you apply for or the number you’re awarded, consider applying to any for which you’re eligible.
AmVETS Veteran, Active Duty & Guard/Reserve Scholarships
Amount: $4,000 and $12,000 (two in each amount awarded annually)
Eligibility: Applicants must be U.S. Citizens and honorably discharged vets or active-duty members enrolled in an eligible graduate degree program at any accredited four-year college or university. Financial need must also be demonstrated. Applicants convicted of a federal or state law for possession or sale of illegal drugs or firearms will be disqualified.
Colorado Technical University (CTU) Patriot Scholarship
Amount: Full tuition
Eligibility: Veteran applicants must be honorably discharged and receiving or have received medical treatment for service-connected disabilities with a minimum disability rating of 30%. Scholarship recipients must begin their CTU campus-based or online degree programs within the year in which the scholarship is awarded.
Comcast NBCUniversal – SVA Scholarship
Amount: $12,000 (two scholarships annually)
Eligibility: Scholarships are awarded to veteran students with an interest in the entertainment industry in any major at an accredited college or university in the U.S. Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 GPA and a short essay describing the applicant’s previous leadership experience and their interest in NBCUniversal and a career in the entertainment industry.
Council of College and Military Educators (CCME) Veteran Scholarship
Eligibility: Applicants must be prior uniformed service members of any branch and active, guard, or reserve. Must be a first-time graduate degree seeker at one of the 19 CCME member schools. Other application requirements include a minimum of six completed graduate-level credit hours with a cumulative 3.0 or better GPA from a CCME member institution.
Google SVA Scholarships
Eligibility: Applicants must be currently enrolled at an accredited U.S. college or university and pursuing a degree in computer engineering, computer science, or a closely-related field such as electrical engineering, software engineering, information technology, systems administration, etc. The scholarship is open to honorably discharged veterans of any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, including the Reserve and National Guard.
Graydon and Myrth Fox Scholarship
Amount: $1,000 to $5,000
Eligibility: This scholarship is available to veterans with financial need who have served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces and are pursuing their degrees at an accredited college or university. Preference is given to veterans wounded while performing official military duties in a combat situation or during a military training exercise.
H&P Veterans Helping Veterans Scholarships
Amount: $1,000 (four awards annually)
Eligibility: H&P’s scholarship is open to former members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and National Guard. Applicants must plan to use their education to help fellow veterans as described in a brief statement submitted with their applications. The four awards are made annually, two in fall and two in spring.
HotelPlanner.com Graduate Technology Scholarship For Military Veterans
Eligibility: This scholarship is available to veterans and their spouses and children. Applicants must be enrolled in a technology-related degree program at an accredited college or university in the U.S. Award criteria include financial need, the veteran’s military service, and an exhibited interest in a technology-related career as described in a short essay submitted with the application.
Eligibility: Open to veterans, active-duty military, and Gold Star family members, applicants to this Intel-AFCEA Scholarship must be U.S. Citizens or permanent residents and enrolled in a STEM master or Ph.D. program at an accredited U.S. university. Additional benefits include potential Intel Mentor, internship or full-time job with Intel, and access to Intel architecture, research, training, and networking opportunities.
Jewish War Veterans of the USA Foundation National Veteran Achievement Program
Amount: $1,000 to $5,000
Eligibility: This essay contest awards grants to current service members and veterans who are U.S. citizens attending an accredited degree program. The program is open to anyone regardless of religion, race, culture, or creed. Essays must be 500 to 750 words and address the given topic.
Marines' Memorial Tribute Scholarship
Amount: $2,500 to $5,000
Eligibility: Notwithstanding its name, this scholarship is open to veterans of all military branches. Applicant must have served honorably and ended active service or transitioned to reserve status within the past three years. Application requirements include a 250 to 500-word response to questions regarding military legacy and what it means to the applicant.
NBCC Foundation Military Scholarship
Amount: Up to $8,000
Eligibility: The scholarship is awarded to a student currently enrolled in a CACREP-accredited counseling master’s program. Applicants must demonstrate experience with and knowledge of military personnel and their families. Recipients must commit to providing mental health services to active service members and veterans for a minimum of two years post-graduation.
Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Scholarship Program
Amount: $2,500 (full-time students) and $1,000 (part-time students)
Eligibility: To qualify for a PVA scholarship, applicants must be PVA members or the spouse or unmarried dependent child of a PVA member. Applicants must also be U.S. citizens and accepted or enrolled as full-time or part-time students at an accredited U.S. college or university.
Pat Tillman Foundation Scholars Program
Eligibility: Open to active-duty military and veterans and their spouses, including surviving spouses, from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, including the National Guard. Children are not eligible. Applicants must be full-time students pursuing a degree at a U.S.-based accredited college or university. This scholarship may be renewed for additional years if the recipient meets specific renewal requirements.
Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) Sport Clips Help a Hero Scholarship
Amount: Up to $5,000
Eligibility: Applicants must be U.S. citizens honorably discharged from any service branch, including the National Guard or Reserve, with a military rank of E-5 or below at the time of separation. Additionally, applicants must be currently enrolled in or accepted to a VA-approved program at an accredited post-secondary institution.
Veterans United Foundation Scholarships
Amount: Up to $20,000
Eligibility: Open to veterans of any branch with a 100% service-connected disability, applicants must be comfortable with sharing their personal stories and aspirations with the Veterans United Foundation. Additional criteria include financial need, required essay, and additional information describing church, community, school, and athletic achievements or involvement.
Wells Fargo Veterans Scholarship Program
Amount: $5,000 per year
Eligibility: Available to honorably-discharged U.S. military veterans, including Reserves and National Guard. The spouses and widows of disabled veterans are also eligible. Must be enrolled in a master’s degree program (doctorate students are ineligible) at a four-year college or university. Applicants must also have a minimum 2.0 GPA.
AAAA Scholarships Foundation Awards
Amount: $1,000 to $12,000
Eligibility: AAAA Scholarship applicants must be current members of the Army Aviation Association of America or the spouse, child, grandchild, or unmarried sibling of a current or deceased AAAA member. Membership must be effective by May 1st of the year before the award is sought. Awards are merit-based.
Army Nurse Corps Association (ANCA) Scholarship Program
Eligibility: Must be currently enrolled in an accredited advanced nursing or nursing anesthesia program to apply for this scholarship. Applicants must be currently or have previously served in the U.S. Army, Army National Guard, or Army Reserve. Applicants may not be currently receiving educational funding from a U.S. Army component (e.g., 100% GI Bill benefits).
Army Women's Foundation Legacy Scholarship Program
Eligibility: This scholarship is available to women who have served or are serving honorably in the U.S. Army, Army Reserve, or Army National Guard and to their descendants. Applicant must be accepted to or enrolled in a master’s or doctoral degree program at an accredited college or university. A minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA on an applicant’s undergraduate degree is also required.
Captain Sean P. Grimes Physician Assistant Educational Scholarship Award
Eligibility: Available to current physician assistants with a current unencumbered PA license seeking a master’s or doctoral degree, applicants to this scholarship must be active members, veterans, or retirees of the Army, Army Reserve, or Army National Guard. Awards are based on financial need, academic record, and professional and community activities.
Raytheon Missiles & Defense Patriot Scholarship
Amount: $10,000 (two awards annually)
Eligibility: Awards for this scholarship are made to U.S. Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve honorably discharged veterans attending full-time at an accredited U.S. college or university. Applicants must demonstrate engagement and leadership in their community along with compassion for and commitment to their chosen fields of study.
Fleet Reserve Association Foundation Scholarships
Amount: Varies up to $5,000
Eligibility: Students can apply for FRA scholarships if they are affiliated with the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard either through their own military service or the service of a spouse, parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent. Several scholarships are available that give preference to post-graduate level study.
Navy SEAL Foundation Scholarships
Amount: $2,500 to $5,000
Eligibility: Navy SEAL Foundation Scholarships are available to Post 9/11 SEAL and Post 9/11 SWCC veterans. Applicants may receive either an NSF scholarship or Veteran Education Living Stipend (VELS) but not both. VELS stipends provide support for living expenses to veterans in full-time programs in which no scholarship funds are needed. Amounts vary from $2,500 to $5,000 per year based on family size.
Raytheon Missiles & Defense SPY-6 Scholarship
Amount: $10,000 (two awards annually)
Eligibility: This scholarship is open to veterans of the U.S. Navy and Navy Reserve who are currently enrolled in an accredited, four-year U.S. college or university. Applicants must be honorably discharged, veterans in good standing, and able to demonstrate leadership in their local community.
Women Marines Association Scholarships
Amount: $1,500 and $5,000
Eligibility: The Women Marines Association Scholarship is open to current members and veterans of the U.S. Marine Corps and Reserve as well as direct descendants, siblings, and descendants of siblings of active and veteran Marine Corps and Reserve. Marine Corps JROTC participants are also eligible. Applicants must be sponsored by a WMA member.
Delta Dental Grants
Eligibility: Delta Dental Grants are open to transitioning service members of the Air Force or Space Force and their spouses and dependents. Applicants must be pursuing degrees related to oral health and wellness. Examples of acceptable fields include dentistry and nursing. Application requirements include proof of enrollment, a letter of recommendation, and a statement of purpose describing how the grant will assist the applicant in meeting his or her educational goals.
Trident University Full Scholarship
Amount: Full tuition and related fees
Eligibility: This is a full scholarship available to current Air & Space Forces Association (AFA) members who are current or prospective students at Trident University. Applications should include one letter of recommendation from a teacher, supervisor, counselor, or director of an organization in which the applicant participates and an essay describing how the scholarship and Trident degree will contribute to the applicant’s future goals.
Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Scholarship
Eligibility: This scholarship is available to current and former members of the U.S. Air and Space Forces, including active duty, Air National Guard members, and Reservists, as well as to their spouses, children, and other dependents. Application requirements include one letter of recommendation and an essay describing how the scholarship will help the applicant meet his or her educational goals and how these goals support the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Van Hip Heroes Scholarship Application
Amount: $1,000 per year
Eligibility: The Van Hip Heroes Scholarship is available to current and former National Guard members who were wounded in a training or operational mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, or Operation New Dawn. The college or university they attend must be geographically located within the 50 U.S. States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, or the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Tips for Standing Out on Your Application
Locating the veteran’s scholarships that you qualify for is just the first step. The most crucial step is filling out and submitting your application, and it’s where you want to focus on being as complete and impressive as possible. Most scholarships are competitive, so do everything you can to make yours stand out. Below are tried and true approaches for getting the attention of scholarship selection committees.
Letters of recommendation
Many scholarship applications require one or more letters of recommendation. Pay careful attention to their requirements and provide letters from the types of persons requested (i.e., teachers, employers, etc.). Choose your letter writers carefully, making sure that they know you well and can speak specifically about your academic and personal strengths. Be sure to request your letters as early as possible to ensure they are finished in time and provide the positive recommendations you want.
Wow with your essay
Don’t be afraid of scholarship applications that require essays. You’ll miss out on way too many great opportunities if you are. When it comes to writing your essay, pay close attention to the specific topic and write to that topic as closely as possible. Avoid general language. Your main goal is to stand out from everyone else, so be unique. Give yourself lots of time to write, edit, and rewrite. Look for good writers (like former teachers and English composition majors) to review and critique your essays before submitting them.
Be first in line
Being the first to submit your application probably won’t give you an advantage in winning, but it will allow you to avoid a last-minute rush to finish on time. It’s more important to get your application right than to get it in early, but finishing it as early as possible allows you to avoid the mistakes often made in the last-minute rush. Plus, many applicants miss out on awards because they miss the deadline. Planning to finish yours early helps you avoid this all-too-common mistake.
Beef up your extracurriculars/volunteer work
The trend for scholarship selection committees is to seek out well-rounded applicants, ones that distinguish themselves outside of the classroom as much as they do inside. Participation in extracurricular activities and volunteer work demonstrates that you care about others and possess any number of sought-after soft skills like leadership and self-motivation. Participation in extracurricular and volunteer activities takes time, though, so get going on them right away.
Additional Resources for Veterans
Scholarships are wonderful and one of the best sources of college funding, but they can be competitive. Unless you are among the lucky few who can finance your college degree entirely with scholarships, you’re going to need plenty of other help. Fortunately, there are lots of additional resources available to help both active military and veterans pay for college. Below are some of the best college and informational resources for veterans looking to finish college or pursue a graduate degree.
If you’re a U.S. military veteran, you’re likely aware of the GI Bill and its many benefits, including its generous education benefits. For veterans who served on active duty on or after September 11, 2001, those benefits include help paying for tuition and fees and money for housing, books, supplies, and moving from a rural area to attend school. The percentage of benefits you’re eligible for is based on active-duty service length and other factors.
Yellow Ribbon Program
The Yellow Ribbon Program provides additional funding for costs the Post 9/11 GI Bill doesn’t cover. Applicants must have at least 36 months of active duty and be honorably discharged or meet one of several other eligibility requirements. They must also be enrolled in a school that offers the Yellow Ribbon Program. Total benefits vary and are determined by the participating school.
Tuition Assistance Top-Up
Tuition Assistance Top-Up provides additional tuition payments above and beyond the benefits received through the DoD Tuition Assistance Program. The Top-Up program is available to both active duty service members and veterans who qualify for Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD) or Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.
Other VA Educational Benefits
This Veterans Administration website offers detailed information on VA educational benefits and services available in addition to those specifically provided through the GI Bill. Included are programs for added GI Bill benefits, alternative programs for veterans who are ineligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, and education and training benefits specifically focused on helping vets during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Non-VA Resources for Student Veterans
This Veterans Administration webpage provides non-VA links and descriptions of dozens of useful websites and resources for student vets. Included are both government and non-government financial aid programs and individual state veterans’ benefits websites.
Military Students Federal Loan Benefits Guide
This U.S. Department of Education guide provides a detailed look at federal student loan benefits for current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Included are descriptions of and links to the various student loan and repayment options available from the Department of Education and Department of Defense as well as other student loan resources.
Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Discharge
Veterans who have received a VA disability determination of either a 100% service-connected disability or total disability based on an individual unemployability rating can qualify for a TBD discharge. A TBD discharge relieves the disabled veteran from having to repay any of several federal education loans and/or complete a TEACH service obligation.
DoD Tuition Assistance
The Department of Defense TA program provides funding to help service members pay for their college programs at over 3,000 participating postsecondary institutions. The benefit applies to tuition and certain fees, currently a maximum of $250 per semester credit or $166 per quarter credit and not to exceed $4,500 total per fiscal year. TA benefits are available for members of all military branches and are administered by each branch individually.
Advanced Civil Schooling (ACS)
ACS provides Army Officers (current Active Duty or Voluntary Indefinite Status) the opportunity to pursue an advanced degree in a STEM, acquisition, or business-related field on a fully-funded, full-time study basis at a civilian university. This program educates officers on meeting requirements for certain job positions in the course of their service. Officers can have no more than 17 years of Active Federal Service at the time of entry into the program.
Master’s Degrees based on Military Experience
You may be able to receive college credits toward your graduate degree for training and experience gained during your military service. This Online Master’s Degrees webpage provides a comprehensive look at master’s degree programs that reward you for your hard-earned military service.