One part of raising children is wondering about how you will pay for college when the day comes. As a military service member, you probably wonder how your service can help. Or, as a veteran, you might be curious about your state and if they offer any tuition waivers for veterans. The good news is, certain states do provide tuition waivers to veterans and sometimes their dependents.
States That Offer Free College To Veterans And Dependents
Here is what you need to know about them:
In Connecticut, the state law provides that tuition at state educational institutions will be waived for certain veterans and certain dependents. In order to qualify, veterans must be attending a state regional community or technical college, or a state university. They must either be a veteran who served 90 days of active duty during a period of war, have been accepted to an approved institution and be a Connecticut resident at the time of acceptance to the institution. A veteran’s dependents can also qualify for a tuition waiver if the veteran is declared missing in action while serving in the armed forces after January 1, 1960.
Illinois has an Illinois Veterans’ Grant (IVG) Program that pays tuition and mandatory fees at all Illinois state-sponsored colleges, universities and community colleges for eligible Illinois veterans. In order to qualify, veterans must be an honorably discharged veteran, reside in Illinois, have at least one full year of active duty in the US armed forces, to include veterans who were assigned to active duty in a foreign country in a time of hostilities in that country regardless of length of service, and they must return to Illinois within six months of discharge from the service.
In Massachusetts, they have a tuition waiver for all Massachusetts veterans to all state colleges and universities. Veterans would need to be in an undergraduate degree program or certificate program, must also be a legal resident of Massachusetts and must not be in default of any federal student loans. Veterans are eligible on a space-available basis for a waiver of full or partial tuition based on proper documentation of the eligibility of the veteran.
Montana has a state veteran tuition waiver. If a veteran meets all of the eligibility requirements, they can get a waiver of registration and incidental fees. In order to qualify, a veteran must have an honorable discharge from any branch of the US military, on active duty, other than training purposes. They must also be a state resident of Montana for fees and tuition purchases. They must have been VA education benefits must have been exhausted or expired and they must qualify under any of the following sections:
- Served December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946; June 22, 1950, to January 31, 1955; or January 1, 1964, to May 7, 1975.
- Qualified students who are working on an initial undergraduate degree and received an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for service after May 7, 1975.
- Qualified students who are working on an initial undergraduate degree and received the Southwest Asia Service Medal for service in the Persian Gulf between August 2, 1990, and April 11, 1991.
- Awarded the Kosovo Campaign Medal and working on their initial undergraduate degree.
- Served in a combat theatre in Afghanistan or Iraq after September 11, 2001, and received either the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal or the Iraq Campaign Medal and working on their initial undergraduate degree.
Veterans who qualify for this waiver can receive it for a total of 12 semesters and must maintain satisfactory progress as established by the Board of Regents for the Montana University System.
South Dakota provides for certain veterans to take undergraduate courses at a state-supported university. Veterans must have been discharged under Honorable conditions, be a current resident of South Dakota and qualify for in-state tuition, and qualify as a veteran. Qualifying as veteran would mean serving on active duty any time between August 2, 1990, and a date to be determined, receiving an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal or other United States campaign or service medal for participating in combat operations against hostile forces outside the boundaries of the US, or having a service-connected disability rated 10% or more that is disabling.
Veterans who are eligible can receive one month of free tuition for each month of qualifying service with a minimum of one, up to a maximum of four academic years.
Texas has the Hazelwood Act, which is an education benefit offering up to 150 credit hours of tuition and most required fees at a state-supported college or university at no cost to the veteran. In order to be eligible, the veteran must be a Texas resident upon entering military service, be classified as a resident by the institution for the term or semester they are applying for, have served at least 181 days on active duty service, have an honorable or general under honorable conditions discharge, have no federal veteran’s education benefits, or if they have benefits, they need to be less than the value of the tuition and fees for the term the veteran is applying for. They also can’t be in default of any student loans, either federal or those made or guaranteed by the State of Texas.
Veterans who are eligible can assign or transfer unused hours of exemption eligibility to a child under certain conditions. In order to qualify, the child must be a Texas resident, be the biological child, stepchild, adopted child, or claimed as a dependent in the current or previous tax year, be 25 years old or younger on the first day of the semester that they are claiming the exemption for, and meet the GPA requirement of the program as well as not having an excessive amount of credit hours.
Spouses and dependent children of eligible service members, active duty, reserves, and the Texas National Guard who died in the line of duty or the result of an injury or illness related to military service qualify. Spouses and dependents of those who are missing in action, or who became totally disabled for purposes of employability as a result of a service-related injury or illness are also entitled.
In Wisconsin, they have their own GI Bill. The Wisconsin GI Bill forgives full tuition and segregated fees for eligible veterans and their dependents for up to eight semesters or 128 credits, whichever is greater, at any University of Wisconsin System or Wisconsin Technical College System school. This is separate from the Federal GI Bill.
To be eligible the veteran must be a Wisconsin resident at the time of entry into active military service and be a resident for at least five consecutive years preceding the beginning of any semester or session for which they register at a qualifying institution. Eligible veteran’s spouses or children may use this benefit if the veteran has been awarded a service-connected disability rating of at least 30% or has died in the line of duty or a result of a service-connected ability.
To qualify a veteran must:
* Have served at least 90 days or more during a war period.
* Have served on active duty at least two continuous years or full initial service obligation during peacetime.
*Was honorably discharged because of a service-connected disability, a disability subsequently adjudicated to have been service-connected, or due to a reduction in the US Armed Forces.
*Served in a designated crisis zone.
*Received the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, a Vietnam Service Medal, a Navy Expeditionary Medal, or a Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, or an expeditionary or service medal equivalent to those already mentioned.
*Served for any period under Section 1 of Executive Order 10957 dated August 10, 1961.
Wyoming provides a veteran tuition benefit in the form of free tuition and fees for overseas combat veterans, surviving spouses, and their dependents. There were some changes in 2018, so those that were currently enrolled would be entitled to full payment as well as the use of 10 semesters of education as long as their entitlements have been used by August 31, 2020. After that, all participants that are currently enrolled or those who enrolled after the summer 2018 semester will only be entitled to payment of tuition and will be limited to 8 semesters within an 8-year period.
Florida has the Congressman C.W. Bill Young Tuition Waiver Program. This program will waive out-of-state tuition fees for all honorably discharged veterans who reside in the state and who are enrolled in Florida public, post-secondary institutions. This is also extended to spouses and dependent children who reside in Florida and who are using GI Bill benefits for enrollment in Flordia Public, postsecondary institutions.
In New Mexico, they have the Wartime Veteran Scholarship Fund. This can be used by any veteran who has served in combat since 1990, and who has exhausted all of their available federal GI Education Benefit options. Eligible combat veterans are those who have served since 1990. This scholarship is for tuition costs and books directly related with undergraduate and master’s degree work at a public New Mexico Institute of Higher Education. Veterans will need to be residents of New Mexico for a minimum of ten years and also awarded the Southwest Asia Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal or any other medal issued for service in the Armed Forces of the United States in support of any US Military campaign or armed conflict as defined by Congress or presidential executive order for service after August 1, 1990.
New Mexico also has a Vietnam Veterans Scholarship. This is for veterans who have been residents of New Mexico for a minimum of 10 years, have served in Vietnam, and were issued the Vietnam Campaign or Service Medal are eligible. This scholarship will pay full tuition and books at any state-funded postsecondary school.
New York has the Veterans Tuition Awards that are managed by the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC.) Awards are for full-time and part-time students for eligible veterans that matriculated at an undergraduate or graduate degree-granting institution or in an approved vocational training program in New York state. Veterans will need to be New York state residents, be discharged under honorable conditions and who are one of the following: Vietnam Veterans who served in Indochina between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975, Persian Gulf Veterans who served in the Persian Gulf on or after August 2, 1990, Afghanistan Veterans who served in Afghanistan during hostilities on or after September 11, 2001, or Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who served in hostilities that occurred after February 28, 1961 as evidenced by receipt of an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal or a Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal.
Utah has the Veterans Tuition Gap Program. This enables qualifying military veterans to receive tuition assistance for the last school year at state institutions of higher education. This is for tuition only and does not include housing, books, or other expenses. In order to qualify, veterans must be a Utah resident, admitted to a state school, have no previous degrees, and are eligible for Chapters 1606, 30, 31, 32, 33 Post 9/11 GI Bill, but have it be exhausted.
In Washington state, they have authorized state community colleges, colleges, and universities, to waive all or a portion of eligible veterans’ tuition and fees. This is to include national guard members. They must have served during a war or conflict, served in another country or international waters, or in support of those serving on foreign soil or in international waters. They also need to have an honorable discharge. They will also need to be a resident with Washington domiciliary.
They also waive undergraduate tuition and fees, up to 200 quarter credits or equivalent semester credits for dependents of 100% disabled veterans who are eligible, at state community colleges, colleges, and universities.
South Carolina has a tuition program for children of certain war veterans. The benefit would be a tuition waiver at any state-sponsored university, college, or post-high school technical education institution. Children need to be 26 years old or younger and need to be a child of a wartime veteran. They also need to be admitted to any state-supported college, university or post-high school technical education institution free of tuition as long as their work and conduct is satisfactory. The veteran will also need to be a resident of South Carolina at the time of entry into service, be a resident during service and still residing in the state or have been a resident of the state for at least a year and still residing in the state. If the veteran is deceased, they would have had to reside in the state for at least one year before they passed. The veteran will have also had to have served honorably during a war period.
Tennessee has the Helping Heroes Grant which is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. To be eligible, a veteran must be honorably discharged after serving in the US Armed Forces, or a former or current member of a reserve or Tennessee National Guard unit who has been called into active military service. They also must have been a Tennessee resident for one year preceding the date of application for the grant, be awarded Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, or Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, on or after Sept. 11, 2001, be enrolled at an eligible 2 or 4 years postsecondary institution, haven’t earned a baccalaureate degree yet, not in default of a federal or Tennessee educational loan, and other qualifications. The grant may be awarded for a maximum of eight full semesters.
North Carolina offers scholarships for children of veterans. They are eligible for a four-year scholarship at a North Carolina approved school. The veteran parent must either be deceased, disabled, be a POW or be MIA, or a combat veteran. The veteran will have needed to meet the qualifying criteria during wartime. The child must be under 25, be a natural child of a veteran, or be adopted before the age of 15, been born in North Carolina, and have been a resident of North Carolina since birth, and a current resident. The parent veteran will have needed to be a resident of North Carolina at the time of entry into the qualifying period of service, or the child will have needed to have been born in North Carolina and have lived exclusively in North Carolina.
If your state is not on this list, it is possible that it could be added in the future.