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12 States With the Most Unclaimed Veterans Education Benefits

Underused State Education Benefits for Veterans

Don’t Forget These Veterans Education Benefits in These 12 States

Earlier this year, the Department of Veterans Affairs published information about the most underused benefits, as reported by each state’s veterans department. The following states reported that these education benefits were the most underused by veterans.


The Deputy Executive Director of Florida’s Department of Veterans Affairs, James S. Hartsell, explained that, “Florida waives undergraduate-level tuition at state universities and community colleges for Florida recipients of the Purple Heart and other combat-related decorations superior in precedence to the Purple Heart.” This benefit also applied to the state’s career and technical training facilities. Learn more about Florida’s education benefits for veterans.

For more info, please go here.


The Brandstead-Reynolds Scholarship Program receives the least applications each year from this state. This program provides post-secondary educational scholarships for children of deceased military service members who died on active duty after September 11th, 2001. Another underused program is the War Orphan Tuition Assistance Program.

For more info, please go here.


The Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services reported that the most underused benefit offered by their state is the Veterans Dependent Education Benefit, which is only offered to those veterans who have received a 100% Permanent and Total Disability rating. David Richmond, director of Maine’s Bureau of Veterans’ Services, explained that “dependents and spouses of qualifying veterans are provided 100% waiver of tuition and all mandatory fees for spouses and dependents of veterans at all University of Maine System Schools, Maine Community Colleges, and Maine Maritime Academy.” He laments that many veterans who qualify do not use the benefit.

For more info, please go here.


The Children of Veterans Tuition Grant, which provides undergraduate tuition assistance to students aged 17-25 who are the natural or adopted child of a Michigan veteran, is this state’s most underused benefit. The director of Michigan’s Veterans Affairs Agency, Zaneta Adams,  explained that a veteran must have died or have become permanently disabled as a result of their military service. “The families of our veterans are just as important to us as our veterans, which is why we want to ensure that they take advantage of all their benefits,” she said.

For more info, please go here.


Larry Herke, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs reported that the Minnesota GI Bill was among the least used benefits by veterans in his state. The program provides a maximum benefit of $10,000, up to age 62, for any eligible Minnesota veterans, currently serving military, National Guard and Reserve members who served after September 11, 2001, and eligible spouses and children. Participants can use the benefit at institutes of higher education, on-the-job training, apprenticeships, or licensing and certification.

For more info, please go here.


The Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs reported that their most underused state benefit is the Reservist Tuition Credit. Under this program, Nebraska residents who are enlisted members of the Nebraska-based unit of the Active Selected Reserve may be eligible for a 50% tuition credit to the University of Nebraska campuses, state colleges and community colleges.

For more info, please go here.


Sean McCarthy, assistant director of Ohio’s Department of Veterans Services, explained that “[t]he Ohio National Guard offers tuition assistance at over 150 Ohio colleges and universities for Veterans who serve in an enlisted drilling status with the Guard – up to four semesters of full time tuition for a three year commitment, and up to eight semesters for a six-year commitment. If you’re transitioning out of the active service and join the Ohio National Guard, this benefit would net you some excellent college time!

For more info, please go here.

Rhode Island

This state’s Office of Veterans Services reported that the most underused benefit is for eligible active duty military and veterans to receive in-state tuition rates at University of Rhode Island, Community College of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College “immediately upon establishing residence in Rhode Island.” Wow! No waiting period. That’s fantastic!

For more info, please go here.

South Carolina

South Carolina provides free tuition or education assistance for qualified children of certain military veterans applying to or enrolled in a South Carolina state supported college, university, or post-secondary technical education program. This waiver can also apply to acceptance into dual enrollment/early college credit programs prior to graduating high school. Certain residency requirements must be met.

For more info, please go here.

South Dakota

Education benefits are the most underused portion of South Dakota’s suite of veterans benefits. Greg Whitlock, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs, encourages all veterans of the state to contact their local county or tribal veterans service officers, or the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs office (605-773-3269) to learn more about their benefits, or visit the link above to visit their benefits website.

For more info, please go here.


The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has a goal of becoming the “most veteran friendly higher education system in the nation”. They believe that the military training you have endured should be appropriately recognized at the college level. Using their TN-SOP tool, Tennessee is providing a head start to veterans on obtaining college credentials.

This tool is actually pretty cool. First, I selected my branch of service. Then, I entered my MOS (11B Infantryman), then my highest pay grade, and finally the date of my initial training. With that information, the SOP tool populated a list of Tennessee colleges and universities with the amount of transfer credits I’d be eligible to receive. For example, Middle Tennessee University would grant me 18 credit hours with just my MOS. That six less classes I would need to take for a degree program. Please check this tool out!

For more info, please go here.


Tim Sheppard, executive director of the Wyoming Veterans Commission, said that the most underused benefit for his state is the honorary high school diploma. “We haven’t had a request in over three years.”

Here’s how it works: “The following personnel who have attended a Wyoming high school, entered military service on these specified dates (shown below) prior to completing necessary high school graduation requirements, and who did not receive a high school diploma, may apply to the state superintendent of public instruction for an honorary high school diploma.”

An honorably discharged veteran of:

  • World War II who served in the U.S. military between December 8, 1941 and August 14, 1945.
  • The Korean War, who served in the U.S. military between June 27, 1950 and July 28, 1953.
  • The Vietnam War, who served in the U.S. military between February 28, 1961 and August 15, 1973.

While this is not the typical education benefit, it is one of my favorites. It reminds us that there are citizens among us who stopped their whole lives to fight for our country. Some of them were only in high school when they made that choice. I commend Wyoming for this benefit.

Importance of Education Benefits

To sum up this piece, I want to make it clear that most states have tremendous benefits available to their veterans and service members. The ones listed above reported an underuse of their state’s education benefits. So, if you are veteran of any of these states, please take advantage of these amazing opportunities!

(Image courtesy of Hong Qi Zhang via 123rf.com)






About the author

Terry Howell is a retired Coast Guard veteran, where he served for 20 years.

He is currently the Executive Director for Veterans' Legacies, a non-profit that works to preserve veterans personal stories to help educate our youth.

Terry is also the author of The Military Advantage, an annually updated guide to military and veteran benefits.