How to Find the Best Military and Veteran Scholarships

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You might assume that military members are given a free college education in exchange for their service. You might even assume this if you served yourself.

Unfortunately, each military branch’s tuition assistance might only cover tuition and some fees, up to about $750 per class, reported Military.com.

Luckily, grants and scholarships for veterans can help fill the gap, covering the added cost of books, housing, and even other education fees.

4 sources of scholarships for veterans

Just as there are many ways for military families to find scholarships, there are useful resources for military members themselves. If you count yourself in this group, you’re probably familiar with online scholarship-search tools like the engine offered by Military.com.

These are great tools for finding veteran scholarships you might otherwise miss, such as Google’s $10,000 scholarship for veterans majoring in computer science and computer engineering.

But before you go searching for military scholarships, consider these key sources.

1. The government

More than 1 million military members benefited from education assistance programs in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). Although these programs aren’t scholarships in name, they function the same way — as gift aid that doesn’t need to be repaid.

Beyond tuition-matching programs that military members can contribute to while on duty, there are four VA programs specific to student veterans seeking aid:

Choosing between the GI and Montgomery Bills can take some research. The VA’s GI Bill comparison tool allows you to see which programs work with your school.

Student veterans could also qualify for federal student aid that is accessible to all students. The Department of Education (DOE) offers need-based Pell Grants, for example, which require you to fill out the FAFSA.

Beyond the federal government, you could also contact your state’s department of higher education and your state’s office of veteran affairs. Depending on where you live, you might find one resource more helpful than the other. If you live in West Virginia, for example:

  • The state’s department of education would lead you to Common Ground, which offers general military resources.
  • The state’s department of veterans assistance lists state benefits and programs for student veterans.

If you come up empty searching government websites, try using Military.com’s informative map.

2. Your military branch

Although they’re all under the same umbrella, each of the five military branches might be able to help you finance your education uniquely. If you’re interested in enrolling in ROTC, you could find military scholarships through the Air Force or the Navy, for example.

If you’re already on active duty, check with your branch about scholarships that fit your service experience. The Army, for example, offers up to four years of full tuition and other financial benefits for prospective medical and dental students who qualify as commissioned officers.

For veterans of any armed service, the list of sources might even be longer. Checking in with your branch could lead you to a smaller, more specialized resource like the Army Nurse Corps Association or the Society of Army Physician Assistants.

More likely, you’ll be directed to one of the branch’s own or closely related organizations, like:

Many of these organizations offer veteran scholarships for specific cases. You can better your chances of support by contacting their staff and explaining your situation.

3. Philanthropic organizations supporting the military

There’s no shortage of organizations that are less directly tied to a single branch. The DOE recommends these four charitable forces:

Although these larger organizations can be great sources of scholarships for veterans, don’t discount the opportunities offered by newer, leaner foundations that see fewer applications.

The Pat Tillman Foundation, for example, has named 450 Tillman Scholars since the program’s founding in 2008. These active-duty service members and veterans receive funding for tuition, books, and living expenses.

You can find similar opportunities through online search engines like Fastweb and Scholarships.com. Your military branch might also point you in the direction of smaller private military scholarships.

4. Your school

If you’re already on campus, or at least planning to attend a specific school, your two best resources could be the university’s financial aid office and its student veterans center. Many of these campus departments offer veteran scholarships.

For example, Argosy University drops the cost of each undergraduate course by 20 percent. For another, Georgetown University lists a handful of scholarships for veterans, including the Mujica Graduate Student Veteran Stipend of $2,000 per year.

Even if your school doesn’t offer military scholarships, it can offer direction on where to find them. Your aid office or veterans center should take your specific background into account and help you take the next step.

If you’re a business major aspiring to also earn a master’s degree, for example, they might connect you with the Military MBA’s education network. Or if you’re interested in studying engineering, they might mention the Raytheon Patriot Scholarship via Student Veterans of America.

Start applying for veteran scholarships

Whether you find them through the government or the military, charitable organizations or universities, don’t wait to start applying for scholarships for veterans. They exist to help vets like you.

Also, don’t forget to apply for scholarships that have no connection to the military. Prioritize scholarships that offer the greatest reward and academic or professional support. They’ll likely require a personal essay, but that’s to your advantage. After all, you probably have a unique story to tell.

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** Discover's lowest rates shown are for the undergraduate loan and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.

1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

  1. Rates include 0.25% Auto Pay Discount
     
  2. Explanation of Rates “With Autopay” (APD)
    Rates shown include 0.25% APR discount when client agrees to make monthly principal and interest payments by automatic electronic payment. Use of autopay is not required to receive an Earnest loan.

    Available Terms
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    In school deferred payment is not available in AL, AZ, CA, FL, MA, MD, MI, ND, NY, PA, and WA).


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3 Important Disclosures for College Ave.

CollegeAve Disclosures

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

(1)All rates shown include the auto-pay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

(2)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

(3)As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000.

Information advertised valid as of 7/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.


4 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.

Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.

Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
If you are unable to pay your government loan, the government can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount. In addition, the government has special powers to collect the loan, such as taking your tax refund and applying it to your loan balance.

A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If you refinance your government loan, your new lender will use the proceeds of your new loan to pay off your government loan. Private student loan lenders do not have to honor any of the benefits that apply to government loans. Because your government loan will be gone after refinancing, you will lose any benefits that apply to that loan. If you are an active-duty service member, your new loan will not be eligible for service member benefits. Most importantly, once you refinance your government loan, you will not able to reinstate your government loan if you become dissatisfied with the terms of your private student loan.

If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you are a borrower with a secure job, emergency savings, strong credit and are unlikely to need any of the options available to distressed borrowers of government loans, a refinance of your government loans into a private student loan may be attractive to you. You should consider the costs and benefits of refinancing carefully before you refinance.

If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.

Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.


5 Important Disclosures for Discover.

Discover Disclosures

  1. Students who get at least a 3.0 GPA (or equivalent) qualify for a one-time cash reward on each new Discover undergraduate and graduate student loan. Reward redemption period is limited. Please visit DiscoverStudentLoans.com/Reward for any applicable reward terms and conditions.
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  3. Aggregate loan limits apply.
  4. Lowest rates shown ARE FOR THE UNDERGRADUATE LOAN AND include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments. The interest rate ranges represent the lowest INTEREST RATE OFFERED ON THE DISCOVER UNDERGRADUATE LOAN and highest interest rates offered on Discover student loans, including Undergraduate, Graduate, Health Professions, Law and MBA Loans. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index plus the applicable Margin percentage. The margin is based on your credit evaluation at the time of application and does not change. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 2.50% as of July 1, 2019. Discover Student Loans will adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the “interest rate change date”), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. Please visit https://www.discover.com/student-loans/interest-rates.html for more information about interest rates.
3.99% – 11.44%1Undergraduate and Graduate

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3.96%
11.98%
3
Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents

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3.66% – 9.64%4Undergraduate and Graduate

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3.87%
11.87%
**,5
Undergraduate and Graduate

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

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