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Illinois Veterans Benefits

Illinois Veterans Benefits

There are many federal programs for veterans, but there are also programs for veterans in the state of Illinois. You can also learn about veterans’ benefits in other states.

Education Benefits for Illinois Veterans

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

Illinois Educational Opportunity Grant

The Educational Opportunity Grant provides the children of qualifying veterans a grant of $250. This is a cash grant provided to children between the ages of 10 and 18 and is meant to be used at a school or vocational training program.

Qualifying criteria for veterans include having a 100% service-connected disability for at least two years or having died from service-connected causes on active duty. This grant must be reapplied for each year.

State of Illinois MIA-POW Scholarship

This Illinois state scholarship offers full payment of tuition and mandatory fees for attendance at any Illinois state-supported college or university for up to four years. The scholarship is intended for the dependents of veterans declared MIA or POW, or those who died on active duty or are 100% disabled due to a service-related medical issue.

Other qualifying criteria include:

  • Qualifying applicants include:
  • Spouse
  • Children (biological, stepchildren, or adopted) under the age of 18 at the time of marriage

The veteran’s residency status is an important factor:

  • The veteran must have been an Illinois resident when they entered military service OR;
  • Became an Illinois resident within six months after entering active military service, OR;
  • Was a resident of Illinois for at least 15 consecutive years after entering active duty as of the date of application.

Illinois Veterans’ Grant

The Illinois Veteran Grant (IVG) Program pays full tuition and mandatory fees at all Illinois state-supported colleges, universities and community colleges for qualifying veterans who are also Illinois residents. To be considered for the program you must:

  • Have an Honorable discharge;
  • Must have lived in Illinois for six months before entering the service;
  • Must have at least one full year of active duty
  • Must return to Illinois within six months of discharge from the service.

If you qualify for both IVG and the GI Bill, you may be able to receive benefits from both programs during the same academic year.

The decision to draw these benefits concurrently may have financial implications compared to using each benefit individually–be sure to ask your admissions counselor about how using both programs at once may affect your benefits.

Illinois National Guard Grant

The Illinois National Guard, also known as the ING Grant, pays tuition and eligible fees (registration, graduation, general activity, matriculation and term fees) at all Illinois public universities or public community colleges.

National Guard members with less than 10 years of active duty service in the Guard may earn up to 120 “eligibility units” for this program. Guard members with more than 10 years of active duty National Guard service may earn 180 eligibility units to use. You must not be in default on a student loan to be approved for the ING Grant.

University Of Illinois Children of Veterans Scholarship

Every county in the State of Illinois has the ability to award up to three tuition waivers for children of qualifying Illinois veterans. These waivers are good for four consecutive years of tuition offered specifically at the University of Illinois–this is not a program offered by all Illinois schools.

  • Up to three tuition waivers per county are offered each year.
  • Veteran parents must have served in an “eligible conflict” such as World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Beirut, Grenada, Southwest Asia, Operation Enduring Freedom, or Operation Iraqi Freedom.
  • You must be a permanent resident of the Illinois county from which you apply.
  • This tuition waiver is not meant for out-of-state tuition.
  • A new, complete application must be submitted each year for applicants who did not receive the award.

Preference is given to the children of veterans who have died or who have become disabled.

Find colleges in Illinois with our School Finder.  Use the filters to sort schools by state.

Tax Benefits for Illinois Veterans

Returning Veterans’ Homestead Exemption

The Returning Veterans’ Homestead Exemption is an option for qualifying wartime veterans to claim a one-time $5,000 reduction to their home’s assessed value after returning home from wartime duty.

These exemptions are not automatic and must be applied for–contact your nearest County Assessor’s Office to learn the current year’s application requirements and submission process.

Specially Adapted Housing Tax Exemption

This exemption is allowed on the assessed value of a home “for which federal funds have been used for the purchase or construction of specially adapted housing” according to the State of Illinois.

This exemption is for primary residences only. This tax relief is offered for veterans with qualifying service-connected disabilities “for the purpose of acquiring or remodeling suitable dwelling units with special fixtures or moveable facilities made necessary by the veteran’s permanent and total service-connected disabilities.”

Apply for this benefit via a Veteran Service Office or contact the State of Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs.

Tax Exemption for Mobile Homes

This Illinois state tax exemption for qualifying disabled veterans applies “to the tax imposed by the Mobile Home Local Services Tax Act.” Qualifying for this tax break requires the veteran to be authorized to receive a VA Specially Adapted Housing Grant.

You must be a permanent resident of the state on the first day of the tax year you claim the tax exemption for. Illinois tax laws are subject to frequent change; if you aren’t sure what tax laws apply to your situation, contact a tax professional to learn how to take advantage of this benefit.

Illinois State Healthcare Benefits For Veterans

The Illinois Veterans Care Program is a need-based option that provides healthcare at reduced, income-based monthly rates to qualifying low-income veterans. This program is primarily intended for:

  • Uninsured low-income Veterans with “the least access” to reliable healthcare
  • Low-income veterans who cannot access VA health care. Veterans Care offers an affordable option for eligible Illinois Veterans who are looking for comprehensive healthcare coverage.

Those enrolled in the Veterans Care Program pay monthly premiums based on income, typically between $40 and $70 at press time. Services may include:

  • Hospital/clinic care
  • Doctor visits
  • Pharmacy
  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapy
  • Laboratory tests
  • X-rays
  • Alcohol and substance abuse services
  • Medical equipment, supplies, and appliances
  • Emergency medical transportation
  • Hospice care
  • Home healthcare
  • Dialysis
  • Family planning
  • Optometric care
  • Podiatric care

Who qualifies:

  • Veterans ages 19 through 64 with no health insurance coverage for six months or more (certain exception apply)
  • Must not have a Dishonorable discharge
  • Not eligible for VA healthcare
  • Not eligible for other state healthcare programs
  • Must have served 180 consecutive days of active duty
  • Veteran income meets or falls below the Illinois Veterans Care Income Threshold by County.

Apply for this benefit at any Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs office.

Illinois State Veterans’ Homes

Since 1886, the State of Illinois has operated veterans’ homes offering skilled care and long-term resident care. What began as a single veteran’s home in Quincy has over the years expanded to include five facilities in the state:

  • Anna
  • Chicago
  • LaSalle
  • Manteno
  • Quincy

General admission policies include allowing “any” honorably discharged veteran if one of the following applies:

  • Has served in the U.S. Armed Forces for one day during wartime, or served in a “hostile fire environment” and received a qualifying service medal.
  • Was retired for a service-connected disability or injury.
  • Has served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for at least 24 months after September 7, 1980.
  • Has served as a Reservist or National Guard member called to federal service or who completed 20 years of satisfactory service and is eligible for military retirement benefits.
  • Has been discharged for reasons of hardship or released from active duty due to a reduction in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Other admissions requirements may apply. Beds are provided on a first come, first served basis with no exceptions. Contact the individual home you wish to apply to (see above) for specific admission policies for that facility as they may vary.

Illinois State Veteran Burial Benefits

Illinois State Indigent Veterans Burial Benefit

A Veterans Assistance Commission or an “individual county of Illinois” may provide burial assistance for qualifying, honorably discharged homeless veterans. This benefit is offered to surviving family members with a demonstrated financial need as defined by the state.

Illinois State Veteran Headstone Reimbursement

When the Department of Veterans Affairs provides a headstone or marker for a deceased veteran, the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs offers reimbursement for transporting and setting up the grave marker within the state. Illinois State Headstone Fees Benefit For Veterans

At the time of this writing, this benefit is capped at $125, subject to change from year to year..

Employment Benefits for Illinois’ Veterans

Illinois offers veteran preference points to qualifying vets and family members for competitive job exams when hiring for state employment. The amount of preference depends on the veteran’s qualifying criteria which include, but may not be limited to the following:

Three Preference Points

Offered to those who served at least six months and received an honorable discharge. These points are also offered to those with hardship discharges, and those who were released from duty due to service-connected medical issues. Those who serve four years or more in the Guard or Reserve may also qualify.

Five Preference Points

Five points are offered to those who served in wartime for at least six months and have an Honorable discharge. Others who served in wartime and were discharged due to hardship or disability may also qualify.

10 Preference Points

Offered to disabled veterans, Purple Heart awardees, and qualifying surviving spouses. These points may also be offered to the parent of a veteran who died or has a service-connected disability.

Financial Benefits for Illinois Veterans

Illinois State Income Tax Policy on Military Pay:

Military pay may be subtracted from gross income for Illinois state income tax. This applies to:

  • Typical military pay
  • Pay while attending a military service academy
  • ROTC pay
  • Guard/Reserve pay

Illinois Disabled Veterans Housing Act

This state-level veteran benefit is offered in the form of a lump sum payment up to $15 thousand meant to offset the costs of adapting a home to accommodate a veteran’s “permanent and total disability” according to the State of Illinois.

To qualify for this state-level option, the veteran must be VA-certified as being eligible for the federal-level VA Specially Adapted Housing Grant. You must apply for this certification first prior to applying for the state-level program.

Other requirements include being a state resident when entering military service. Other grants may also be offered to cover remodeling costs. Apply at any Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs office.

Line of Duty Compensation

The Illinois Court of Claims offers a death benefit (worth more than $300 thousand in 2022) to the next of kin of Illinois service members who die on duty in support of the Global War on Terrorism.

Beneficiaries have two years to file a claim using a form from the Illinois Attorney General’s office. Submit the form to the  Illinois Court of Claims using the address provided on the application form.

Be sure to submit the following documentation with your application:

  • Report of Casualty (DD Form 1300)
  • Certificate of Death (DD form 2064) (if available)
  • Record of Emergency Data (DD Form 93) (if available)
  • Servicemembers Group Life Insurance Election and Certificate (SGLV822

State of Illinois Bonus Payments For Military Service

The State of Illinois offers bonus payments for Illinois veterans who were state residents for 12 months before entering the military. Some are one-time payments, others may recur. You can apply for these bonus payments through the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.

Bonuses and qualifications include but may not be limited to:

World War II

  • Offered to veterans with 60 days of active duty service between September 16, 1940, and September 3, 1945.
  • $10 per month for domestic service
  • $15 per month for foreign service.
  • Survivors are entitled to a benefit of $9,000 (in 2022) in cases of service-related death in combat.

Korean War

  • Offered to veterans who served in Korea between June 27, 1950, and July 27, 1953, and received the Korean Service Medal.
  • $100 bonus payment

Vietnam War

  • Offered to those who served in Vietnam from January 1, 1961, through March 28, 1973.
  • Also offered to those who served in Vietnam Frequent Wind: April 29, 30, 1975.
  • $100 bonus for veterans who received the Vietnam Service Medal or Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for Vietnam

Persian Gulf

  • Offered to veterans who served between August 2, 1990, to November 30, 1995, and received the Southwest Asia Service Medal.
  • $100 bonus

Global War on Terrorism

  • For veterans who served on or after September 11, 2001, who served 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days of foreign or sea service.
  • To qualify you must have earned one of the following: and be in receipt of one of the following medals: Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, and Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
  • $100 bonus

Global War on Terrorism Survivor’s Compensation

  • Offered to survivors of veterans who were killed by terrorist acts or hostile activities during military service on or after September 11, 2001,
  • $3,000 one-time death benefit

POW Compensation

  • Offered to those taken prisoner in Southeast Asia, and were on active duty or employed by the US Government on or after January 1, 1961.
  • $50 for each month held captive.

For more information regarding Illinois veterans’ benefits, please see the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.




About the author

Julie Provost is a freelance writer, and blogger. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.