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