Military Scholarships for Service Members, Veterans and Families

 June 30, 2020
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If you have a connection to the military — whether you’re on active duty, a veteran, in ROTC or planning to serve in the future, or even if you’re a military spouse or dependent — there are military scholarships available to you.

Some are specific to certain U.S. military branches, while others are more generic. Some military scholarships are merit-based, while others are need-based, and some require a service commitment.

Below is a list of scholarships so you can find the right military scholarship program for you. Beyond these options, you may find additional military scholarships through your state, college, military branch or other military-related organizations.

Active duty scholarships

Here’s a list of awards geared primarily toward active-duty service members. Some of these programs also cover spouses and children, as well as veterans, and are listed again in the subsequent section.

F. Edward Hebert Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program

Amount: Full tuition for up to four years, monthly stipend of more than $2,200, $20,000 signing bonus
Branch: Army

The U.S. Army’s Health Professions Scholarship Program is available for students pursuing medical, dental, veterinary, optometry, specialty nursing or clinical/counseling psychology degrees. The program pays for your tuition and in return, you agree to serve in the Army for at least eight years total: at least two years on active duty and the remaining time in the Reserve. The Army recommends applying for the program at the same time you’re applying to your degree program. This scholarship is part of the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP), which also includes the Navy and Air Force.

Army Women’s Foundation Legacy Scholarship Program

Amount: $1,000 for certificate programs and community college coursework, $2,500 for undergraduate and graduate degree programs
Branch: Army

The Army Women’s Foundation Legacy Scholarship Program awards scholarships to women who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. Army, U.S. Army Reserve or Army National Guard, as well as the children of women who have served honorably in one of those capacities.

There are four types of scholarships in this program, each with slightly different eligibility requirements:

  • Community College Legacy Scholarship: Must be a high school graduate with a 2.5 grade point average (GPA) or GED, currently enrolled in an accredited community college.
  • Certificate Program Legacy Scholarship: Must be a high school graduate with a 2.5 GPA or GED, currently enrolled at an accredited school.
  • College and University Legacy Scholarship: Must be enrolled at an accredited college or university and have completed 30 credit hours with at least a 3.0 GPA.
  • Graduate Program Legacy Scholarship: Must have an undergraduate degree with a cumulative 3.0 GPA, and be currently enrolled in or accepted into a master’s or doctoral program.

Pat Tillman Foundation Tillman Scholar program

Amount: $11,000 per academic year, on average
Branch: Various

The Tillman Scholar program is open to veterans and active duty service members from all branches of the U.S. military and also to their current and surviving spouses. To be eligible, you must be a full-time student pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree. This scholarship is merit-based and the application requires a resume, two 400-word essays and a letter of recommendation, among other things. Applicants also must have submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Navy SEAL Foundation scholarships

Amount: Varies
Branch: Navy

The Navy SEAL Foundation scholarship is available for active duty SEALS, active duty Special Warfare Combatant-Crewman (SWCC) and active duty Naval Special Warfare (NSW) support personnel who are on their second tour (as well as the spouses of these military members), as well as veteran SEALs and SWCC. This scholarship is merit-based and the application requires a 500-word essay.

Colonel Loren J. and Mrs. Lawona R. Spencer Scholarship

Amount: $5,000
Branch: Air Force

The Colonel Loren J. and Mrs. Lawona R. Spencer Scholarship is designed for members of the U.S. Air Force who are pursuing a graduate degree in management and administration. Numerous types of Air Force personnel may qualify: officers, enlisted members, Air Force civilians, full-time members of the National Guard or full-time Reservists. The application requirements include a letter of recommendation from your Air Force supervisor or commander, a minimum GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) and a 600-word essay.

Captain Jodi Callahan Memorial Scholarship

Amount: $1,000
Branch: Air Force

The Captain Jodi Callahan Memorial Scholarship is designed for members of the U.S. Air Force who are pursuing a master’s degree in a non-technical field. You may qualify if you’re on active duty, in the Air National Guard or a full-time member of the Air Force Reserve (either as an officer or an enlisted member). The application requirements include a letter of recommendation from your Air Force supervisor or commander, a minimum GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) and a 600-word essay.

Coast Guard Foundation Scholarships

Amount: $1,000 – $5,000
Branch: Coast Guard

The Coast Guard Foundation offers multiple scholarships for enlisted Coast Guard members, spouses of Coast Guard members and children of Coast Guard members (including the Fallen Heroes Scholarship, for those whose parents died in the line of duty). In addition, there is also a scholarship available to members of the Coast Guard Reserve and their families. Each scholarship has slightly different eligibility requirements — review your preferred scholarship’s page for details on applying.

Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation

Amount: $6,000 to $40,000 over four years ($1,500 to $10,000 per year)
Branch: Marine Corps

The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation awards scholarships to students pursuing bachelor’s or associate degrees, as well as career and technical education certificate programs. The application requires a photo, school transcript and your family’s 2019 tax return, as well as documentation of your parent’s military service. To qualify for an award from the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, you:

  • Must be a child of a Marine or a Navy Corpsman, or a chaplain or religious programs specialist attached to a Marine unit.
  • Must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 on an unweighted 4.0 scale.
  • Your family must have an adjusted gross income of less than $103,000.

Women’s Overseas Service League scholarships

Amount: $500 to $1,000 per year, on average
Branch: Various

The Women’s Overseas Service League scholarships are awarded to female students who have completed at least one semester of college with a minimum 2.5 GPA, and you must be pursuing a professional or technical degree program. The application requires a resume, three reference letters and a 250-word essay about your career goals, including “evidence of your commitment to a career in the military or other public service occupation.”

Scholarships for veterans and dependents

Note that veterans may also qualify for some of the scholarships listed under “Active duty” above.

AMVETS National Service Foundation Scholarships

Amount: Up to $4,000 over four years ($1,000 per year)

American Veterans (AMVETS) is a veterans service organization that offers multiple military scholarships through its National Service Foundation scholarship program. The scholarships are for honorable veterans and military members who are on active duty, in the National Guard or in the Reserves, and the spouses, children and grandchildren of those veterans or current military members. These scholarships can be used to pay for undergraduate courses. To apply you must complete the FAFSA, provide SAT or ACT scores, and write a 350- to 500-word essay, among other requirements.

AMVETS Dr. Aurelio M. Caccomo Family Foundation Memorial Scholarship

Amount: Up to $12,000 across four years ($3,000 per year)

American Veterans (AMVETS) also offers two memorial scholarships, including the Dr. Aurelio M. Caccomo Family Foundation Memorial Scholarship. Like the National Service Foundation Scholarships, this scholarship is for undergraduate coursework. To apply you must complete the FAFSA, provide SAT or ACT scores, and write a 350- to 500-word essay, among other requirements.

American Legion Legacy Scholarship

Amount: Up to $20,000

The American Legion Legacy Scholarship is designed for children of U.S. military members who died while on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, as well as children of post-9/11 veterans have a combined disability rating of 50% or above, as assigned by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The scholarships are need-based and can be used for undergraduate- or graduate-level coursework. The application requires that you submit the FAFSA, as well as information about your college financial aid package and any other government veterans benefits you’re awarded.

Purple Heart Scholarship

Amount: $1,500 to $5,000

The Purple Heart Scholarship Program awards scholarships to Purple Heart recipients, as well as their spouses, children and grandchildren. To be eligible, the Purple Heart recipient must be a member of The Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH). The scholarship can be used to pay for full-time enrollment at an accredited undergraduate program or trade school.

Coast Guard Exchange Scholarship Program

Amount: $2,000

The Coast Guard Exchange Scholarship Program is for dependent children of Coast Guard members (including active duty, reserve, retired, current Coast Guard auxiliarists and current civilian employees) who are pursuing an undergraduate degree. Students must be in their final year of high school to apply. The application requirements include a high school transcript, SAT or ACT scores, a one-page essay and two letters of recommendation.

Army Women’s Foundation Legacy Scholarship Program

This award is listed above under “Active duty scholarships” and also includes children of women serving in the Army.

Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation

This award is listed above under “Active duty scholarships” and also includes children of Marines.

Coast Guard Foundation Scholarships

This award is listed above under “Active duty scholarships” and also includes children of Coast Guard members.

ROTC scholarships

Finally, here are some scholarship awards for Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets.

Army ROTC scholarships

Amount: Full tuition, plus a stipend for living expenses

There are multiple Army ROTC scholarships for graduating high school students who are interested in enrolling in Army ROTC, as well as current college students and enlisted soldiers. These full-tuition, merit-based scholarships also provide $420 a month for living expenses and allowances for books and fees. The application process and commitment requirements vary depending on whether you’re an incoming college freshman, already enrolled in college or are already enlisted.

AFCEA Educational Foundation ROTC scholarships

Amount: $2,000 to $3,000

AFCEA is an international non-profit organization that connects militaries, governments and industry communities. The AFCEA Educational Foundation ROTC scholarships are designed for sophomores and juniors who are enrolled in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Air Force ROTC. To be eligible, you must be pursuing a major in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) field that supports the mission of the AFCEA Education Foundation such as biometrics, computer engineering, cybersecurity or robotics technology.

FAQ on military scholarships

Does the military pay for college? In many cases, yes. The GI Bill offers education benefits to help veterans and their families pay for an undergraduate or graduate degree, or a career training program. You can get up to 36 months of benefits, which help cover expenses including tuition, books and housing.

How can you check if you qualify for the GI Bill? The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ website has information about GI Bill eligibility requirements. There are different versions of the GI Bill, including the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The department’s GI Bill Comparison Tool can help you weigh your options.

Should veterans report educational benefits as income on FAFSA? No. Veteran education benefits are considered a resource and shouldn’t be reported on the FAFSA. However, you will need to report non-education veterans benefits, such as disability benefits and VA educational work-study allowances.

Are college grants for veterans available? Yes. Options may include the federal Pell Grant and the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant, which is for students whose parents died while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11. There are also military grants and scholarships available from private organizations, state governments, military branches and colleges.

Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.

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