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New York Veterans Benefits

New York Veterans Benefits

State Veterans Benefits for Military and Veterans in New York

The following are the New York veterans’ benefits programs for education, employment, healthcare, housing and taxes.

New York State Veteran Education Benefits

In addition to federal programs such as the GI Bill, there are also veterans’ benefits programs provided by the State of New York.

Veterans Tuition Awards

The Veterans Tuition Awards is a program offering “awards” for full-time and part-time study. This is offered up to a cap of undergraduate tuition for state residents attending the State University of New York “or actual tuition charged, whichever is less.”

Full-time study is 12 or more credits per semester or 24 hours per week in a vocational training program. To qualify, veterans must be New York State residents discharged under honorable conditions AND who meet any of the criteria below:

    • Vietnam Veterans who served in Indochina between February 28, 1961, and May 7, 1975.
    • Persian Gulf Veterans who served there on or after August 2, 1990.
    • Afghanistan Veterans who served there “during hostilities on or after September 11, 2001.”
    • Veterans with Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal, or Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal

New York State Regents Awards

This program offers up to $450 per year to students whose parent(s) served during “specified times of national emergency” and “as a result of such service, the Veteran either died, suffered a 40 percent or greater United States Department of Veterans Affairs service-connected disability rating percentage, was classified as missing in action, or was a prisoner of war.”

To qualify, the veteran must be a New York State resident or have been a resident at the time of death.

MERIT Scholarship

The Military Enhanced Recognition Incentive and Tribute (MERIT) Scholarship offers financial aid to qualifying children, spouses, and financial dependents of New York State residents who died or “became severely and permanently disabled while performing their military duties, whether in combat or not.”

The award pays up to four years of full-time undergraduate study or five years in an approved five-year bachelor’s degree program. It includes the lesser of the actual tuition costs OR the State University of New York’s in-state tuition. Room and board are also covered, as well as books and transportation.

Find colleges in New York with our School Finder.

In order to find scholarships for the state of New York, as well as military and veterans, and their spouses and dependents, please use our Scholarship Finder.

New York State Veteran Housing Benefits

The Homes for Veterans Program offers fixed-rate mortgages with mortgage rates lower than similar home loan programs offering down payment help.

You do not need to be a first-time home buyer, down payment assistance is 3% of the purchase price or $3000 (whichever is less). There are no origination fees, points, and a down payment requirement of 1%. You may qualify for this program with any military discharge except those classified as Dishonorable.

Property Tax Exemptions for Veterans

New York State has three different tax exemptions for veterans, all of which have unique requirements.

Alternative Veterans Exemption

      • Available for primary residences of veterans who served “during a designated time of war or received an expeditionary medal.”
      • Available in most jurisdictions but not all;
      • There may be extra tax benefits for combat vets and those with VA-rated service-connected disabilities.

Cold War Veterans’ Exemption

      • Available on a primary residence of veterans who served during the Cold War.
      • Extra tax benefits may be available for those with VA-rated disabilities.

Eligible Funds Exemption

      • A partial exemption only.
      • Applies to primary residences purchased with a pension, bonus, or insurance monies.
      • May be available for school district taxes.

Contact your local tax assessor’s office for more information.

New York State Veterans’ Nursing Homes

New York State has five Veterans’ Homes, offering “a range” of medical, vision, and dental services. The homes include locations at:

    • Batavia
    • Oxford
    • Montrose
    • St. Albans
    • Long Island

To qualify, veterans must either have entered active duty from New York or be a New York state resident for one year prior to the application. 30 days of active service and an honorable discharge are required; spouses are allowed if they were married to the veteran for at least one year prior to application time.

A veteran who is accompanied by their spouse in the application for admission may be offered priority for admission. They are followed in priority by wartime veterans, non-wartime veterans, spouses, and Gold Star parents.

New York State Burial Benefits

In 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery Romulus was selected as New York State’s first state-operated veterans cemetery. Requirements for burial or interment here include the following:

  • Veterans discharged from active duty under other than dishonorable conditions.
  • The veteran’s legal spouse and eligible dependent children.
  • Those discharged or released for disability or hardship

Pre-need arrangements may be possible but physical reservation of a plot or niche may not be permitted. You will need to make arrangements with a funeral director at the time of need.

State of New York Burial Benefit For Veterans

The state offers a $6000 burial benefit to the survivors of qualifying veterans. This is meant to cover expenses for veteran burials not otherwise paid for by the federal government.

To qualify, the veteran must be a New York State resident at the time of death, OR was a member of the New York National Guard when they entered active duty status and died on duty. Those who died in a combat zone or while receiving hazardous duty pay may also qualify.

To apply, contact the New York Division of Veterans Services.

New York State Veteran Employment Benefits

Experience Counts Veteran Employment Program

The “Experience Counts” campaign includes state-level reforms to state licensing and higher education designed to “ensure military experience is appropriately credited when servicemembers return to civilian life.”

Under this program, veterans may be able to use military experience towards a special license or certification, which may include certificates in the following careers:

    • Advanced Emergency Medical
    • Armed Security Guard
    • Bus Driver
    • Certified First Responder
    • Crane Operator
    • Emergency Medical
    • Home Health Aide
    • Home Nurse Aide
    • Licensed Radiologic Technologist
    • Personal Care
    • Security Guard
    • Tractor Trailer Operator
    • Truck Driver

See the New York State Department of Labor official site for more information on this program.

Veterans Preference Points for Civil Service

For veterans testing for competitive Civil Service jobs in the state, preference points may be offered. Qualifying disabled veterans may be eligible for up to 10 points, other veterans may qualify for an additional 5 points on competitive exams.

RELATED: Guide to Veterans’ Preference Points

Other New York State Veteran Benefits

New York State Blind Annuity Program

The New York State Blind Annuity Program benefit is for legally blind wartime veterans and surviving un-remarried spouses of legally blind wartime veterans. Blindness does not need to be service-connected to qualify.

Veterans must have served during wartime for at least 90 days unless discharged for a service-connected disability. Proof of state residency is required at application time. Apply for this benefit through the New York Division of Veterans Services.

New York State Peddler’s License

Veterans in New York with any discharge except dishonorable may qualify for a free lifetime Veterans Peddler’s License as long as the veteran served overseas. The license allows vending or peddling within a particular jurisdiction in the state, and it does not “supersede any restrictions that are placed by the city, town, or village clerks,” according to the State of New York.

Gold Star Parent Annuity Program

The Gold Star Parent Annuity Benefit is a payment of up to $500 per Gold Star parent of a deceased veteran. Gold Star parents who qualify must re-verify their eligibility on a yearly basis. State residency is a requirement.

For more information regarding New York veterans’ benefits, please see the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs








About the author

Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.