As a veteran transitioning back to civilian life, you’re probably looking for ways to return to the workforce. Many times, this may require going back to school for a new/additional degree or for a refresher course. For instance, if you were a medic in the military you may want to pursue a degree to become a registered nurse.

If you’ve decided that returning to school is the best path for you, then you’re in luck. There are various education benefits and scholarships available to military veterans. So let’s find the ones that are the best fit for you!

Education Benefits

Most educational organizations will have some sort of benefits program for veterans and military-related learners, but there are various requirements and restrictions you need to consider. This is especially important when deciding which educational institution you will earn your degree from. Make sure you look for colleges that not only offer veteran benefits, but offer the ones you are eligible for.

Post-9/11 GI Bill

The Post-9/11 GI Bill® offers financial aid to help cover the cost of tuition, housing, and other expenses incurred in higher education. You can receive up to 36 months of benefits, which can include full tuition for public, in-state universities, books and supplies up to $1,000 per school year, and even a relocation aid of $500 if you’re moving from a rural area to pursue your degree.

Are you eligible? The Post-9/11 GI Bill® offers different levels of coverage depending on how long the military member has served in active duty. You may be eligible for some level of benefits if you:

  • Served at least 90 days on active duty on or after September 11, 2011
  • Received a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2011 and were honorably discharged
  • Served for 30 continuous days on or after September 11, 2011 and were honorably discharged with a service-connected disability

Find the answers to your common admission questions in this complete guide.

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Veteran Readiness and Employment (Chapter 31)

The Veteran Readiness and Employment program (formerly called Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, and also known as the VR&E program or Chapter 31) is another option for Veterans looking for assistance. It’s intended to help disabled veterans obtain the training and support necessary to ensure that they are able to succeed in civilian employment. It includes education benefits, offering financial aid for tuition, books, housing, and even a new computer.

Are you eligible? Service members and veterans who have a service-connected disability and weren’t discharged dishonorably are eligible to apply.

VA Work Study

Veterans who work on campus under the Veteran Affairs (VA) work study program are entitled to additional financial assistance. You can get paid to work a VA-related part-time job on—or near—campus while enrolled in school.

Are you eligible? All veterans are eligible to apply, but must be accepted into the program in order to receive the benefits. Think of it as applying to a part-time job, except you have preference for these positions as a veteran.

Yellow Ribbon Program

The Yellow Ribbon Program helps cover the cost of tuition in instances where the Post-9/11 GI Bill® is not enough. For example, the GI Bill® benefits may not cover the entirety of out-of-state, private, foreign, or graduate school fees. Only certain institutions are Yellow Ribbon Schools—that is, schools that have entered a voluntary agreement with the Department of Veteran Affairs to contribute funds for a veteran’s tuition and educational fees.

Are you eligible? Service members must be eligible for 100% of the Post-9/11 GI Bill® and meet one of the following criteria:

  • Served a total of at least three years on active duty and were honorably discharged
  • Received a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001 and were honorably discharged
  • Served for at least 30 consecutive days on or after September 11, 2001, and were honorably discharged with a service-connected disability
  • Using VA benefits as a dependent child transferred from a veteran
  • Eligible for the Fry Scholarship


In addition to education benefits, there are several scholarships that are only available to military-related learners training in specific fields.

STEM Scholarship

The Edith Nourse Rogers Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) Scholarship can provide an additional nine months or $30,000 of added benefits on top of the Post-9/11 GI Bill® for military-related learners in undergraduate or post-secondary programs in the STEM field. Apply for the scholarship online!

National Nursing Education Initiative (NNEI) Scholarship

The Veteran Affairs (VA) National Nursing Education Initiative (NNEI) Scholarship offers VA registered nurses up to $41,160 to complete a higher education degree in nursing. VA nurses employed part- or full-time for at least one year may apply by contacting their local facility’s scholarship coordinator.

The Health Professional Scholarship Program

If you’re a veteran interested in pursuing a career in the healthcare industry, you’re in luck! The Department of Veteran Affairs offers several scholarships specifically for students pursuing degrees and careers in healthcare through the Health Professional Scholarship Program (HPSP).

Making the Most of Your Benefits

While all these education benefits and scholarships are available to you, you also want to make sure you optimize your opportunities for the best outcome. Here are a few tips to do just that:

  • Do your research. Take some time to research which schools offer which benefits. It may be key in determining the schools you invest your time in and, ultimately, apply for.
  • Make sure you have what you need. Many of these benefits and scholarships will require documents proving your eligibility. Get ahead in obtaining these documents and other resources that you need to ensure it doesn’t become a roadblock to your success.
  • Don’t wait! Apply to these benefits and scholarships early! Many schools and organizations will either have deadlines or approve funding on a first-come, first-served basis. Regis College’s Yellow Ribbon Program is a great example of this. A student is more likely to receive the necessary aid if they apply early, especially because funding is limited.

Choosing a university can be overwhelming, especially if you need to consider colleges with the right benefits for you. Do your research and explore your options. For example, Regis College offers prospective students excellent resource pages outlining their benefits and scholarship programs.

If you’re a military medic looking to enter the nursing field, check out “Transitioning from Military Medic/Corpsman to Nurse: A Complete Guide” for additional tips.

Download the applying to college guide.

 GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website.

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