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There are scholarships for active duty members of all five branches of the military and U.S. armed forces. The military branches are Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy.
These awards honor our heroes for their sacrifice and service. Scholarships also bring educational goals within reach.
Following military service, many United States military veterans choose to earn a higher education degree. It is a path that may help former military service members adapt to civilian life and launch a fulfilling career.
But many military members rely on financial aid to help pay for school. Military undergraduates received an average of $8,000 in veteran aid (excluding room and board). About 50% of military undergrads also received $7,200 in other federal aid.
Over 1.4 million active duty members serve in the United States military. Many proudly serve and join after high school and about 1 million only have a high school diploma. In doing so, they may put a college education on hold. .
Enlisting as an active service member is a full time job. You may live on a military base and deploy at any time.
Joining the Guard or Army reserve is more part time while you may still have a civilian life. You do not have to live on a military base.
Reservists support and must be on stand by in case the troops need help. As National Guard members, you defend the nation too. But you also may deploy if your state needs help during a crisis.
Whether you are a member of the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps or Navy, there are college scholarships and grants for active military personnel. Check out these awards below!
As a military member, your branch may offer a range of scholarships for active duty military to help pay for college. But some scholarships for active service members are for their spouses and dependents serving in the following eight Uniformed Services:
You may need to show financial need or merit in order to qualify for a scholarship. Merit is about grades, test scores, leadership and community service. Financial need means lack of funds. Schools, businesses, agencies, associations, private funds and others also provide scholarship funds. Here are a few military scholarship opportunities to help you pursue a college education while serving the military.
The U.S. Army’s goal is to “deploy, fight and win”. It is the largest, oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military. Out of all the service branches, the Army Active Duty had the most personnel in 2018 with 471,900. Army National Guard follows close behind with 336,388. There were also 288,725 army reservists.
The Green to Gold Scholarships are for two, three or four years depending on the number of years a soldier has left to complete their degree. Selected applicants may use the funds to help pay for a first bachelor’s degree or master’s degree.
Award amounts could cover tuition or room and board . Plus, you may receive a monthly stipend for up to 10 months for each school year. The stipend goes up each year based on your Military Science Class. Other benefits such as leadership training and mentorship may come from the Army ROTC or from your college. .
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen, under the age of 31 with no criminal history. You must also have at least two years of active duty and be a high school graduate with a GPA of 2.5 or above. It is mandatory to pass physicals and submit letters of acceptance and test scores.
If interested, you must create a MY GOARMY account. After successful completion of a degree program, the Soldier becomes a Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Army.
The U.S. Air Force’s mission is to “fly, fight and win in air, space and cyber space”. There were 321,618 Air Force Active Duty personnel in 2018.
Enlisted Airmen who qualify may apply for two scholarship programs. The Airman Scholarship & Commission program (ASCP) provide up to $18,000 awards while pursuing an undergraduate degree and commission through Air Force ROTC. You may receive a $900 textbook allowance and monthly stipend based on student status to cover expenses.
Scholarships for Outstanding Airmen to ROTC (SOAR) program is similar to ASCP in terms of award amount, textbook allowance, and stipend. The only difference between the two programs is that SOAR asks for a wing commander’s recommendation. After graduation and program completion, you may be commissioned as a second lieutenant and return to active duty for four years.
In return for the award, you must accept and sign an agreement with the U.S. Air Force. If interested, there is no formal application. But you must contact your school’s AFROTC department as you need a nomination.
The U.S. Navy protects America from attack at sea. After the Army, the Navy had the most personnel with 325,395 Navy Active duty in 2018.
The Navy Seal Foundation scholarships supports the Navy Special Warfare community and its families. These merit based scholarships go to active duty NSW personnel, their spouses, and children, as well as our SEAL and SWCC post 9/11 veterans.
The award amounts are up to $20,000. Funds cover certificate programs, undergraduate and graduate degrees, licensure and career programs. To apply, you need transcripts, a 500 word essay, and 2nd tour verification letters.
The U.S. Marine Corps is one of the eight uniformed services of the United States. About 185,415 Marine Corps members proudly serve with an “elite fighting spirit”.
Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation offers the Undergraduate & Associate Degree Scholarship. It is for military children of a Marine or a Navy Corpsmen, Chaplain or Religious Programs specialist attached to a Marine unit. If a child of military veterans, you may also qualify.
Applicants must be going for an undergraduate degree. Or, pursuing a non degree certificate that is longer than one year. You may qualify if a new freshman or current college student.
Other criteria are a GPA of 2.00 and an adjusted gross income of less than $103,000. Scholarship awards amounts range from $1,500 to $10,000 per academic year.
The Coast Guard is the nation’s maritime first responder. Coast Guard members also enforce maritime law and watch the borders. About 41,132 serve on active duty with another 7,705 reserve members.
The Children of Coast Guard Members Scholarship ranges between $1,000 to $5,000. If you are the child of an active, retired, or active reserve Coast Guard member you may be eligible to apply. The program is open to first time or graduate students.
Military spouses and military dependent children may qualify for scholarship awards. Financial assistance may also apply to a stepchild or grandchild with family members serving or veterans. Financial assistance may also apply to a stepchild or grandchild with family members serving or veterans.
Each year, the American Legion offers the Legacy Scholarship. It is open to children of post 9/11 veterans who died on active service or have a VA disability rating of 50% or greater.
It aims to fill a financial gap left once a student has used all federal or state grant program aid. You may receive up to $20,000 in aid for undergraduate or post graduate college. Recipients may reapply for extra annual awards up to six times.
When you are ready to apply, a complete application needs your FAFSA on file. High school students must also plan to attend an accredited college. You must also send a DD1300 or disability paperwork.
If you are a spouse of a member of the 7 Uniformed Services with a valid military ID, you may qualify for National Military Family Association – Military Spouse Scholarship. Also dual service military spouses are eligible. Some divorced spouses and widows may qualify as well. NMFA awards offer $1,000. You may use the funds to offset the cost of a degree, certificate, licensure and other studies.
There are scholarships for active duty women who served or served in the military. Female military members are in the minority. In 2018, there were 76,141 male officers in the U.S. Army compared to 16,174 female officers.
The Army Women’s Foundation is one provider. They offer a few programs each year. If you are a woman soldier, past and present or lineal descendant, you may qualify.
They run a program with Trident at American Intercontinental University that provides two full ride scholarships. One for a student pursuing a bachelor’s degree and another student pursuing a graduate degree. You need a 3.0 GPA.
Another program is the Army Women’s Foundation Legacy Scholarship. There are four kinds of scholarship programs. Their community college and certificate programs both offer $1,000 awards. Their college and graduate programs both offer $2,500 awards.
When applying to any of them, criteria include need and merit. So, apart from transcripts, you need a history of community service. You also send in letters of recommendation and transcripts with a 3.0 GPA or above.
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers GI benefits. VA benefits help pay for college, graduate school and training programs. The Post 9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, Yellow Ribbon and tuition assistance programs could provide financial assistance to active service members
The Post 9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) helps pay for school on campus and online classes or job training. If you’ve served in the military after September 10, 2001, you may qualify for it. Those who’ve served may receive up to 36 months of benefits. Some benefits for service members include:
The amounts may vary by how much active service you did since September 11, 2001. VA then calculates this amount based on a percentage of the max benefit.
The VA has a school finder and GI comparison tool to find out possible benefit amounts. If you need more money to cover higher private school or out of state tuition, you may apply for the Yellow Ribbon Program.
If you’re a qualified service member, you may also transfer all 36 months or a portion of your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to a spouse or child. The Department of Defense approves a transfer of benefits.
The Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD) might help you pay for education and training programs. If you’ve served at least two years on active duty, you may qualify.
You may receive education benefits through MGIB-AD if you were honorably discharged and you meet the requirements of one of 4 categories. The program may pay up to 36 months of education benefits.
The amount varies by length of service, type of education you choose, category and if you qualify for a college fund. Funds also depend on how much you’ve paid into the $600 Buy Up Program.
In the Buy Up Program, you decide how much extra funds you want to contribute. With a $600 contribution, you may receive up to $5,400 more in GI Bill benefits.
Another option is the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) program. It may pay up to $384 per month for up to 36 months of education and training benefits.
If you’re a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard Reserve, Army National Guard, or Air National Guard, you may be eligible.
The Yellow Ribbon Program provides funds for out of state, private school, or graduate school tuition that the Post 9/11 GI Bill doesn’t cover. This program may help you pay for tuition either for a degree or training program at a college or other institution of higher learning. You may qualify if you served at least 36 months of active service or received a Purple Heart on or after September 11, 2001.
The amount of money you receive varies by school, degree type, and the academic program you’re enrolled in. Not all schools are Yellow Ribbon Schools. But you could search using a VA tool to find schools that participate in the current year.
You may receive military tuition assistance if you approve for federal tuition assistance. Military members must meet both of the requirements listed below:
You may qualify for more tuition funding to cover the difference between the full cost of a college course and the amount covered for up to 36 months.
Eligible military service members may qualify for federal grants and student loans. You must exhibit financial need according to your FAFSA information.
One of the federal government loans that comes with slightly more favorable terms is a Direct Subsidized Loan. In this loan, your school sets the amount you may borrow.
The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on this loan for the following times:
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) limits the interest rate on these loans to 6%. The policy applies if you took student loans prior to entering the military. Or if you took one out before being called to active service.
One of the grants available from the federal government is the Pell Grant. It too, is for eligible undergrads who show they lack funds for college. But unlike a loan, you only repay it if you don’t abide by the terms. For e.g., if you drop out.
To apply, you must fill out and file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. You must fill out the FAFSA every year you are in school to stay eligible.
For the period July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, the maximum Pell Grant amount is $6,345. But amounts may vary each year and always reflect a few things. Your expected family contribution (EFC), cost of attendance, status as a full time or part time student.
If your parent died in Iraq or Afghanistan or are in the line of duty as a public safety officer, you may be eligible for a higher amount. That’s because the government may calculate funds based on a zero EFC.
Another federal grant program is the Iraq and Afrghanistan Service Grant. It provides funds to help pay for college or career school. The grant helps out military students who were ineligible for a Pell Grant.
It is for those whose parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and died as a result of service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001. You must also be a currently enrolled college at least part time at the time of the parent’s or guardian’s death.
Check out our list of 26,388 awards worth $90M.
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The sources for school statistics and data is the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.
This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The information on this site is for informational and research purposes only and is not an assurance of financial aid.