Military veterans have a number of college resources available to them already: the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Yellow Ribbon Program, Tuition Top Up. These can make a huge difference when it comes to paying for higher education. That said, they may not cover everything. Books, fees, living expenses, and other costs may require additional financial aid from multiple sources. The following guide provides current and future student veterans with a starting point: academic, social, and financial resources, including scholarships and grants.
Scholarships & Financial Aid for Student Veterans
Two common types of financial aid are scholarships and grants. These are also known as “gift aids” because neither of them must be paid back. And while the terms scholarship and grant are often used interchangeably, they are different. Most scholarships are awarded based on merit, while grants are awarded based on financial need, although there are some scholarships that are need-based, too. Below are a number of top scholarships and grants available to student veterans today.
Must be a U.S. citizen with proof of military service and demonstrate a financial need. In addition, must have a high school diploma, free of criminal convictions and not in default on a federal student loan.
How to Apply
Fill out online application and attach a DD-214.
Ankin Law Office
Military veterans who will be enrolled full-time in the fall 2020 in an accredited college, university, trade or vocational school.
How to Apply
Fill out an application and attach 1,000-word essay on the advantages and disadvantages of taking a bicycle to work.
Army’s Women Foundation
Up to $1,000 at a community college or when enrolled in a certificate program; up to $2,500 for college, university or graduate programs
Be an Army women veteran currently enrolled in a community college or certificate program and have a GPA of at least 2.5, or enrolled in a college undergraduate or graduate program and have a GPA of at least 3.0.
How to Apply
Submit an online application, DD-214, two letters of recommendation and up to a two-page essay on why you should be considered for this scholarship.
Must be a U.S. Citizen of an Asian Pacific Islander ethnic group, have a low socioeconomic status, and be the first to attend college in your family; must also show a strong sense of community service and leadership. Applicant must be enrolling as an undergraduate student and have a GPA of at least 2.7 on a 4.0 scale.
How to Apply
Submit an online application after answering all the questions asked, along with one letter of recommendation.
Air Force Aid Society
Retired due to length of service or disability and will be enrolled or have been accepted at a university or college approved by the Department of Education for participation in federal aid programs.
How to Apply
Fill out application and attach a copy of DD-214, along with other supporting documentation as listed on the website.
Medical and Health Scholarships
California’s Office of Statewide Planning and Development
Certified Nurse Midwives, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Dentist, Nurse Practitioners, Occupational Therapists, Pharmacists, Physical Therapists, Physician Assistants, Speech Therapists
Currently enrolled in and approved at one of the following California Board or Committee approved healthcare programs as listed on their website. Willing to serve for 12 months after graduation in a Medically Underserved Area.
How to Apply
Submit an application through the OSHPD portal.
Army Nurse Corp Association
Nursing or Nurse Anesthesia
Must be an honorable discharged veteran or currently serving in a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, not receiving U.S. Army education funding (including the GI Bill) and enrolled in an accredited bachelors or advanced nursing or nurse anesthesia program.
How to Apply
Click on one of the two links: Current ANCA Member or Not an ANCA Member and follow the online instructions.
Association on American Indian Affairs
Unstated amount, but issued twice a year to each selected recipient
Non-specific but must be in a field in need in tribal communities of which one is often healthcare.
Must be an enrolled member of a tribe located in the U.S. and a full-time student enrolled in an accredited institution of higher learning.
How to Apply
Fill out an application posted on the organization’s website in mid-May each year
Funding Life Corporation
EMT and Paramedic
Serving or have served as a combat medic and discharged under honorable conditions or have been awarded the Combat Medic Badge for service as a line medic.
How to Apply
Submit proof of service as a Combat Medic, current photograph, a 500-word or less brief autobiography and two 1,000 to 1,500-word essays on How your experience as a medic impacted your life? and What are your goals and intentions toward advancement or understanding of medical care or relief?
AMVETS National Service Foundation
U.S. citizens who are Veterans of the Armed Forces that can demonstrate a financial need and enrolled in an eligible program
How to Apply
Complete an online application and submit the required documentation as evidence on their website.
How to Land Your Scholarship: 5 Keys
Each year thousands of dollars in scholarship money goes unawarded mainly because of two reasons:
- There were not enough applicants vying for the money
- The applicants did not follow directions and their applications were eliminated from the competition (and that is what it is – a competition that is much like applying for a job).
You can avoid both problems by applying for lots of scholarships and following their directions “to the tee”; dotting all the I’s, crossing all the T’s, filling out everything to the best of your ability… including things that are listed as optional. Give them as much information about you as possible.
Yes, it is a pain, but the time you put into your applications is directly proportional to the money you receive for college. Show the decision makers that award the money you are worthy by doing the above and following these five keys when applying for scholarships:
- Key #1: It is a numbers game
Adopt an abundance mindset in that you are going to apply for as many scholarships as possible hoping to score some money from a lot of them. Seldom do students hit it big from applying to only a few scholarships. Treat it as a job, because at this point that is what it is – it’s your job.
- Key #2: Search scholarships by specific criteria
Some scholarships are specific to certain types of individuals. In other words, if you are a veteran, search out scholarships specific to veterans. The same goes for your major. If you are going into healthcare, search out scholarships in that field of study. Work the odds instead of letting the odds work you.
- Key #3: Make your applications stand out
Many students applying for scholarships do the bare minimum work and sloppy work at that. Make yours stand out by going above and beyond what is required. Research the scholarship provider to learn as much as you can about their organization. Use that information in your application process which usually includes a personal statement or essay. Show that you dug deeper than most and have worked for the money.
- Key #4: Pay attention to the deadline
Most scholarships have a window in which the organization accepts scholarship applications and then the window closes. Applications receive after that close date are not considered. So, make sure your application is submitted enough in advance to arrive well before the deadline – even if you are submitting online. It shows you are a person that pays attention to details.
- Key #5: Use your time wisely
If you don’t meet the requirements of the scholarship, drop it and move on. There is no use wasting your time applying for a scholarship that requires a 3.5 GPA if you have a 3.4 GPA or less. Use that time instead to apply for another scholarship where you do meet the requirements.
College Resources for Student Veterans
Some student veterans look for a school that has a vibrant Veterans Center, including online support, because many use the online option due to its lifestyle flexibility. With an online support system, they can maintain contact with other like veterans and support each other. Often, the educational choices made by student veterans comes down to the resources available – academic, social and financial. Below are some of the many resources available in the different areas.
Academic & Career
- ACP Veteran Mentoring Program for MOAA Members
American Corporate Partners offer mentoring on a one-on-one basis with a corporate professional in the chosen career field. Through this year-long mentorship, student veterans will not only build a network of contacts, but also learn how to translate their military experiences better on their resumes and learn about different career/internship opportunities available.
- Veteran Affairs Pathway Internship Program
Pathways offers current student veterans various internships and employment opportunities at various federal agencies, including the Veteran Affairs itself to not only supplement their income, but to gain valuable career experience and education in their chosen field of study.
Social & Networking
- Student Veterans of America Professional Development Community
Specific to LinkedIn, this online group’s mission is to introduce, develop and connect veteran students with alumni, mentors, sponsors, employers and career professionals to further the student’s career development training.
- Veterans and Military Families Recruiting Night
This free community-wide event connects students with representatives from Fortune 100 companies, non-profits and governmental agencies who are looking to fill internships and full-time positions. Even though it is sponsored by USC, attendees do not have to be USC students.
- Women Veterans Alliance
This website link leads to a by-month events calendar that can be sorted 15 different ways of which two include Job Fairs and Veteran Events.
Advocacy & Diversity
- Creating A Welcoming Environment for Veterans in Higher Education
From the Association of American Colleges & Universities, this webpage describes to educators how students with prior military experience differ from their traditional classmates and how to address some of those unique differences. It is a valuable resource for veteran students to see how educators see them as students and veterans of the military.
- Diverse Military.net
This information resource can be sorted in several ways to include Veterans and Military Education. Or it can be sorted according to ethnic group, such as Native American, Asian/Pacific Islanders, etc. The basis of the site are blog posts addressing various diversification issues and subjects.
- Toolkit for Veteran Friendly Institutions
From the American Council on Education, this pamphlet advocates how to set up an institution best to support prior-military students, including programs, services and campus culture to ensure a “veteran friendly” campus.
- Healthcare Education Grants
From the Health Resources & Service Administration, a list of grants available in various healthcare tracks including Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, Oral Health, Behavioral Health, Geriatrics and Health Careers in general.
- Helping Veterans Become Nurses Initiative
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing hosts this website of information to make it easier to transition from military service to a nursing school. Includes information on how to apply for the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program.
- How to Win the Admissions Game: An Online Guide for Healthcare Students
An excellent resource that explains not only the difference between school admissions and program admissions, regarding healthcare education, but also a step-by-step process on how to best apply.