You would be wrong to think that if you joined the military, you would have to give up your plans to go to school after your service. In the United States, current or future military members, veterans, and people who are related to or depend on military members or veterans may be able to get money for college through scholarships run by the federal government, the FAFSA, individual military branches, or even several non-governmental organizations. These scholarships can be used to pay for tuition, room and board, books, and other educational expenses.
It is essential to keep in mind that these military scholarships, except certain FAFSA scholarships, are benefits that are provided to military employees. Also, if a student accepts one of these scholarships, he or she will have to keep the service contract after they graduate.
Please note that this page is updated yearly, and because the sponsors or institutions that open these scholarships may often change the period in which they accept applications, we may not keep up with these updates due to the volume of scholarships we publish here. Therefore, this page is basically intended to show you the endless opportunities you have to get a scholarship to study anywhere in the world. Simply click on the link to the scholarship you want to check the deadline for on the official website. Or click here to access our list of current scholarships.
- Scholarships for military personnel
While many military scholarships and grants are reserved for students pursuing subjects with the obvious application within military life (medicine, military strategy, etc.), some are more general and are awarded based on merit or need. While eligibility and funds vary widely, scholarship winners are also able to apply for additional funding by using applications such as the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) if needed.
Although not a scholarship, the Montgomery GI Bill is one of the most successful financial aid programs of its type. These funds are open to anyone enlisted in the US Armed Forces who signs up to be a part of the bill, which requires them to give US$100 a month during their first year of service. This is a small amount compared to the cost of college. Those who get money from this source for college can get up to $72,900, depending on their military role and length of service.
Asides from this bill, all the main branches of the US military offer Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs, which are partnered with universities across the nation. ROTC gives students full or partial scholarships if they agree to join the military after they graduate. This path should not be taken lightly, because students sign a contract that says they will serve a certain number of years in the military after college.
- Scholarships from the US Army
The US army and its supporting organizations offer many scholarships for active duty and/or retired service members, including the Health Professions Scholarship Program, the US Army Women’s Foundation Legacy Scholarship, and the Army Staff Sgt. Special Agent Richard S. Eaton Jr., Scholarship. The Army Scholarship Foundation is also a large provider of scholarships.
- Scholarships from the US Navy
Instead of many military scholarships, the US Navy offers educational assistance programs that allow recruits to undertake undergraduate and graduate studies on-site and at a traditional university campus. Costs are subsidized heavily – sometimes even in full – by the Navy itself.
- Scholarships from the US Air Force
The US Air Force offers scholarships, tuition assistance programs, and its own community college. Information for commissioned officers seeking higher education is available here, while other enlisted personnel will find the relevant information here.
- Scholarships from the US Marine Corps
The US Marine Corps offers just a few opportunities for funding, such as the Women Marines Association Scholarship and the Frederick C. Branch Scholarship. For more information, click here.
- Scholarships from the US Coast Guard
The US Coast Guard not only provides its own academic institution—the United States Coast Guard Academy—for free to enrollees, but it also provides funding to students who want to enroll after first completing a traditional university education. The College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative works like the ROTC program, offering up to two years of tuition fees for eligible students at the sophomore and junior levels in exchange for a minimum of three years’ service as an officer in the US Coast Guard after graduation.
- Scholarships for military spouses and children
The US military also does a good job of helping to provide education for the families of its service members, and there are many scholarships for military spouses and the children/dependents of active, retired, disabled, or deceased US military personnel. Again, eligibility varies for each fund.
General scholarships for military spouses and children include those from the Fisher House Foundation and the FAFSA, which offers Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants and Federal Pell Grants.
The Spouse Education Assistance Program is offered to the military spouses and children of US Army service members, while the General Henry H. Arnold Education Grant Program, Scholarship for Air Force Enlisted Member’s Dependent Children, and the AFSA Scholarship Program (for dependents of Air Force Sergeants Association members) are funded for service members of the US Air Force.
The US Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard also offer scholarships for military spouses and children through organizations such as the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (for interest-free loans and grants), the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, and the Coast Guard Foundation.
- Other military scholarships
Depending on where you live in the US, it’s likely that your state government also offers grants and scholarships for military spouses and children. For details of availability and eligibility, contact the Department of Higher Education or the Office of Veterans Affairs in your state. Examples of the types of programs available are the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund and the Iowa War Orphans Educational Aid.
Non-governmental military scholarships include those from the American Legion, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
For a comprehensive list of military scholarships in the US, visit a military scholarship search site. If you are currently on active duty in the US military, you should speak to your commanding officer or division commander for more information.