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South Dakota Veterans Benefits

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Veterans’ Benefits Programs for Residents of South Dakota

The following are South Dakota veterans’ benefits programs for education, healthcare, taxes, and employment.

Education Benefits for Veterans in South Dakota

In addition to federal programs such as the GI Bill, veterans benefits programs are provided by the State of South Dakota. The following are the South Dakota veterans’ benefits programs for education.

South Dakota State National Guard Tuition Assistance

In 2023, the State of South Dakota passed legislation (House Bill 1039) to offer free college tuition to South Dakota Nationa Guard members. This is for in-state colleges only. According to one local news outlet, the program is not retroactive but can be used to pursue the next higher degree from the one paid for through other means.

It’s unclear at press time what is to be the fate of the previous National Guard tuition assistance program, which offered 50% free tuition at any state-supported school. This reduced tuition program provides a maximum of 128 undergraduate credits and 32 graduate credits. It’s possible this program may continue as HB 1039 is a state program, not one offered by a federal agency.

RELATED: National Guard Tuition Assistance

Free Tuition for Veterans

Honorably discharged South Dakota residents may be eligible for waived tuition for undergraduate courses at state-supported universities. Applicants must not have GI Bill benefits to use, and they must not be eligible for “any other federal educational program.“

To qualify, the veteran must have a non-punitive military discharge, be a state resident, and meet the state’s definition of a veteran as defined under state law.

Eligible veterans “may receive one month of free tuition for each month of “qualifying service” to a maximum of four academic years.

To apply, see your selected school’s financial aid office.

RELATED: States Offering Free College To Veterans And Dependents

Free Tuition for Children of Veterans Who Died On Duty

South Dakota residents under 25 whose parent died on duty may qualify for waived tuition at a state-supported school. The parent must have been a South Dakota resident for at least six months immediately before entering active duty.

RELATED: John D. Fry Scholarship

Free Tuition for Dependents of National Guard Members

Children under 25 who are residents of South Dakota and whose parent died or became 100% disabled as a result of their National Guard duty may qualify for waived tuition at state colleges. The spouse/surviving spouse of the guard member is also eligible.

According to the State of South Dakota, “Any person who is a resident of this state whose spouse has died or has sustained a total disability, permanent in nature, resulting from duty as a member of the South Dakota National Guard” is entitled to “free tuition and is entitled to attend any course or courses of study in any state university.”

> Find GI Bill-approved colleges in South Dakota with our School Finder.

Tax Benefits for Veterans in South Dakota

Property Tax Exemption For Disabled Veterans

This program exempts up to a limit ($150,000 in 2023, your experience may vary) of the “full and true value of the total amount of a dwelling” for qualifying property. The property must be owned and occupied by a disabled veteran or an unremarried surviving spouse. The veteran must be rated 100% disabled due to a service-connected disability.

Property Tax Exemption For Paraplegic Veterans

This tax exemption applies to “dwellings which are specifically designed for use by paraplegics as wheelchair homes and which are owned and occupied by veterans with the loss, or loss of use, of both lower extremities,” or by the un-remarried surviving spouse of these qualifying veterans.

These homes are “exempt from taxation,” according to the State of South Dakota. The home must be “owned and occupied by the veteran for one full calendar year before the exemption becomes effective.” Contact your nearest tax assessor’s office for more information on claiming this tax exemption.

Nursing Home Benefits for Veterans in South Dakota

The State of South Dakota operates one Veterans Home in Hot Springs. The home provides long-term residential care to military veterans and their spouses. (See below.)

To qualify for admission, the veteran must have an Honorable discharge. Income caps may apply, and a medical exam may be required within 60 days of application.

Care offered at the facility includes but may not be limited to:

  • Medical services
  • Pharmacy
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • 24-hour nursing care
  • Recreation programs
  • Social services

Contact the facility directly to discuss pre-need options and admissions policies.

South Dakota State Veterans Cemetery 

The South Dakota State Veterans Cemetery is in Sioux Falls, offering no-fee burial for veterans and low-cost burial for spouses and dependents. Depending on your needs, the cemetery provides a grave liner, headstone, niche cover, or memorial marker.

Eligibility requirements for South Dakota State Veterans Cemetery burial are identical to the requirements for burial in a VA National Cemetery. Learn more about those requirements at the VA National Cemetery Administration Eligibility webpage. In general, the requirements include:

  • Discharged from active duty “under conditions other than dishonorable,” or;
  • Died while serving on active duty, or;
  • Served at least 20 years in the National Guard Reserve and is eligible for military retirement pay, or;
  • Reserve members activated for federal duty, or;
  • Spouses and dependents.

Employment Benefits for Veterans in South Dakota

State And Local Government Veteran Hiring Preference

Honorably discharged veterans may qualify for hiring preference when competing for employment and promotion at “all levels of government” within the state.

Unmarried surviving spouses may be “entitled to the same preference as an eligible veteran, as long as the spouse possesses the qualifications” needed to perform the job.

Hiring preference is prioritized as follows:

  • Disabled veterans get priority
  • Spouses of a disabled veteran who cannot work due to their disability
  • Veterans
  • Surviving Spouses

Credited Service For South Dakota Retirement System (SDRS)

State employees may qualify to receive “credited service” for authorized military leave of absence related to an initial tour of duty. “Credited service” is “the period of time you work for an SDRS-participating employer.”

Employees may earn credited service provided that they:

  • are employed before they leave
  • return to public service within one year of discharge
  • remain employed for at least 1 year after returning from service

Other Veterans’ Benefits in South Dakota

The State of South Dakota offers a bonus to qualifying service members. State residency in South Dakota for “no less than 6 months before the period of active duty” is required. The applicant must meet one of the following criteria for military service below:

  • August 2, 1990, through March 3, 1991, all active service.
  • March 4, 1991, through December 31st, 1992, service in a hostile area qualifying for the Southwest Asia Service Medal.
  • January 1, 1993, through September 10, 2001, service in a hostile area qualifying for any US campaign or service medal awarded for combat operations against hostile forces.
  • September 11, 2001, to a date to be determined, all active service.

Furthermore, veterans with qualifying service from August 2, 1990, to December 31, 1992, may receive one bonus of up to $500. Those who qualify after January 1, 1993, may receive another bonus of up to $500.

For more information regarding South Dakota veterans’ benefits, please visit the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs