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California Veterans Benefits

California Veterans Benefits

Veterans Benefits for California Residents

The following are the California veterans’ benefits programs for education, housing, healthcare, and employment. You can also learn about veterans’ benefits in other states.

Education Benefits for California Veterans

In addition to federal programs such as the GI Bill, there are veterans’ benefits programs provided by the states.

California National Guard Education Assistance Award Program (CNGEAAP)

The California National Guard Education Assistance Award Program offers up to 100% tuition assistance at state-supported colleges for members of the California National Guard as well as the California State Military Reserve.

To qualify for this program, you must meet requirements including but not limited to the following:

  • Must be an active member of the Guard/Reserve for at least two years.
  • You must agree to remain an active member for the duration of your “participation period” for financial assistance.
  • This program must be used to earn a certificate, degree, or diploma “currently not held.”
  • You must enroll in “at least three (3) academic units per term”.
  • You must not be receiving a Cal Grant award check for the same academic year.

You cannot apply for this benefit without also filling out a Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

For those applying after the 2021 academic year, be advised that you are required “to provide 2 years of service in the Cal Guard (California National Guard, California State Guard, or the California Naval Militia) upon completion of the last academic period the CMD GI Bill is utilized”.

RELATED: National Guard and Reserve Tuition Assistance

California College Tuition Fee Waiver for Veterans Dependents

This California state program is basically a waiver of tuition and fees at any State of California Community College, California State University or University of California campus. This program does not pay for books, parking, or room/board.

Who may qualify for this program? Dependents of veterans who meet the program’s requirements. For all programs, documentation showing proof of the relationship between the applicant and the qualifying veteran is required.

There are four “classes” that may be eligible for this state-level veteran education assistance.


The veteran must have served at least one day of active duty during a period of war or been awarded a campaign or expeditionary medal. The event “which caused basic entitlement to benefits” must have occurred prior to the dependent child’s 21st birthday. Dependents of these service members may be approved for the program if they meet one of the criteria below:

  • A child between the ages14-30 (depending on circumstances) of a veteran who is 100% service-connected disabled or whose death was officially rated as service-connected is eligible.
  • The spouse, domestic partner, or unmarried surviving spouse of a 100% service-connected disabled veteran during wartime.
  • Dependents of “any veteran” declared missing in action, captured in the line of duty, or detained in the line of duty.

You cannot collect Class A benefits AND draw certain federal-level VA benefits (Chapter 35) at the same time.


The child of a veteran who has a service-connected disability, had a service-connected disability at the time of death, or died of service-related causes may be eligible under Class B.

The official site states, “Children are the only dependents eligible under this plan.” Unlike Plan A,  you are not subject to a prohibition against being paid VA Chapter 35 benefits and benefits under Class B.


Dependent children or spouses of any member of the California National Guard who:

  • was killed in the line of duty, or
  • died of a disability received in the line of duty, or
  • was permanently disabled in the line of duty

may qualify for Class C.


Medal of Honor recipients and their children under 27 may qualify, with the caveat that Plan D benefits may only be used for undergraduate studies. Age and income restrictions may apply.


Find GI Bill-approved Schools in California for Military & Veterans


Financial Assistance For California Veterans

California Military Family Relief Fund

The California Military Family Relief Fund (CMFRF) offers short-term financial help to National Guard members who face financial hardship during military deployments.

To qualify for this assistance, the service member must be:

  • A current member of the California National Guard
  • A current California state resident
  • Must be deployed for 60 days or more in Title 10 status.

There is also a financial qualifier–the servicemember’s salary must be decreased by 10% or more as the result of military deployment compared to income earned prior to the deployment.

You may also become eligible if a service-connected medical issue is involved as the result of military service.

The CalVet official site says, “Application for a cash grant under this section shall be submitted within 18 months of being released from federal military active duty, along with written substantiation demonstrating that the member’s current financial hardship is a direct result of a military deployment and an injury sustained during the deployment.”

Housing Benefits for California Veterans

CalVet Home Loans

This home loan program is a state-authorized option providing low-cost conventional and government-backed home loans through a network of participating lenders.

These are typically offered as fixed-rate, low-interest 30-year mortgages with low origination fees. And if you have not explored your home loan options in some time, be advised that the eligibility requirements for these CalVet mortgages have changed.

Under revised guidelines, “Any veteran purchasing an owner-occupied home in California is eligible” to apply for these benefits. You can do so even as a newcomer to the state as long as you meet the other program requirements, including military service or being a family member of someone who served.

You may also use this benefit if you have used it once already. According to the State of California, “As long as you do not currently have a CalVet Home loan on the portfolio, you are eligible,” and there is “no limit on the number of times you can apply and receive a CalVet home loan”.


Get a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your VA Loan!


Who qualifies?

  • “All veterans” who served on active duty for a minimum of 90 days. not including active duty for training purposes.
  • Eligibility requires service under honorable conditions.
  • There are no prior residency rules. Eligible veterans may have entered service from outside California.
  • National Guard or reservists who have been ordered to active duty, including Active Guard/Reserve duty, may also apply.

Features of CalVet Home Loans:

  • Low-interest rates
  • 1% origination fee, with “No other lender fees”
  • Each application gets reviewed by a live underwriter
  • CalVet loans typically require Fire & Hazard insurance and Disaster Indemnity (Flood & Earthquake)
  • Farm loans may be possible for qualified veterans.

Some programs may feature income restrictions, or you may need to purchase a home in a targeted area depending on the nature of the program you wish to apply for.

Healthcare Benefits for California Veterans

State Veteran Homes

CalVet Homes offers veterans and qualifying family members “rehabilitative, residential, and medical care and services in a home-like environment.”

California has been caring for vets since the late 1800s; today’s network of homes includes eight facilities ranging in size from 60 residents on 20 acres to over 1,000 residents on 500 acres. There are State Veteran Homes in:

  • Barstow
  • Chula Vista
  • Fresno
  • Lancaster
  • Redding
  • Ventura
  • West Los Angeles
  • Yountville

Admission requirements include being 55 or older, and an honorable discharge is required. Homeless vets and those who need long-term care may be eligible to apply for waivers for certain admission requirements.

There are 4 “levels” of care, from independent living to skilled nursing care and memory care.

County Veterans Service Offices

This office can provide assistance for veterans, dependents, spouses and surviving spouses of veterans, and other veteran-adjacent groups. Veteran Service Offices can offer assistance with benefits-related questions about compensation, pensions, school benefits, life insurance, medical benefits, home loans, and much more.

You may be able to request referrals for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder treatment, hospitalization, outpatient medical and dental treatment, alcohol and drug dependency treatment, and other services.

Some VSOs offer claims assistance, client advocacy, case maintenance, information and referral, and program liaison with VA health services.

These VSOs may also be able to coordinate with VA veterans centers, VA regional offices, Veterans service organizations, Cal-Vet home loan assistance, and provide outreach. Search the CalVet official site for VSOs and other services offered in the state.

Employment Benefits for California Veterans

Veterans’ Preference

Veterans’ Preference is applied to qualifying open and open non-promotional examinations at the state and federal levels.

Are you a veteran, surviving spouse of a veteran, or a spouse of a 100% disabled veteran? If you earn a passing score in a state job exam, you may be ranked at the top of the eligibility list.

Be advised that you may not be permitted to use veteran preference after achieving permanent Civil Service status. State-level and federal-level exam rules may vary, and you should ask in advance about any requirements unique to that exam that may apply where veteran preference is concerned.

Veteran preference is not automatic, must be applied for, and you may be required to have a preference on file in advance of any test, so be sure to apply long before needing the preference for a specific test.

To apply for Veterans’ Preference, you will need the following:

  • Copy of your DD Form 214 or other military discharge paperwork;
  • A Veteran’s Preference Application Form (SPB 1093)
  • Submit copies of the completed SPB 1093 Form and supporting documents to:

California Department of Human Resources
ATTN: Examination Unit
1515 S Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Once your application for Veterans’ Preference is approved, it remains on file indefinitely.

RELATED: Guide to Veterans’ Preference Points

California Burial Benefits For Veterans

The State of California operates a group of veteran cemeteries:

  • California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery
  • Northern California Veterans Cemetery
  • Yountville Veterans Home Cemetery
  • Southern California Veteran Cemetery

Yountville is not open to the larger community, its burial facilities are reserved for residents of the Yountville Home.

Eligibility for burial is determined by the State of California in cooperation with guidance from the Department of Veterans Affairs. In typical cases, if the veteran has died on active duty or if the veteran served honorably, it may be possible to be buried in a California State veteran’s cemetery. You can get help determining eligibility by contacting a California county Veterans Service Office.

Veterans and dependents can apply for eligibility on a pre-need basis with no cost to the applicant, and you are not financially obligated to use the services pre-need.

To apply, you must complete Eligibility for Burial Benefits Determination(VSD-002), and submit it to the location you wish to use. Copies of military discharges and other records may be required.

For more information regarding California veterans benefits, please visit the CalVet official site.