For decades, the military has helped active-duty service members, reserves, national guardsmen, and veterans attend school by offering educational assistance. The Montgomery GI bill provides a monthly stipend to service members pursuing higher education or training, and service members can receive these benefits for up to 36 months. Additionally, after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) created the Post-9/11 GI bill to offer service members additional educational assistance. With this bill, service members have up to 15 years to use their benefits, which include reimbursements for tuition and fees. After the creation of this bill, college enrollment among service members increased dramatically.

68% of reserves receive academic financial aid and 48% of active-duty service members receive aid. ACE

According to a study conducted by the American Council on Education and Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, approximately 68% of reserves receive academic financial aid. Similarly, 48% of active-duty service members receive aid, while fewer than 10% incur student loan debt thanks to generous financial aid packages. This page provides an in-depth exploration of the financial options available to service personnel and their family members. The healthcare industry, specifically public health service in the military, is a growing field that requires an advanced degree. As such, the military may cover the tuition of students interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, while also offering military training and job placements.

Financial Aid Programs for Military and Veterans

The Montgomery GI Bill

The Montgomery GI Bill helps active-duty service members obtain financial assistance to pay for college, vocational training, on-the-job training, and certification. The bill is funded in part by service members who contribute $100 a month to the GI fund. Individuals who make this contribution may opt to pursue a public health service military career.

  • What's Covered: Service members can use these funds to pay for tuition and fees for undergraduate/graduate degree programs, entrepreneurship training, entrance exams, licensing and certification tests, high-tech training, and vocational training.
  • Who's Covered: The bill covers service members and veterans with at least two years of active service duty. Actively drilling reserves with a six-year obligation in the selected reserve may also qualify.
  • How to Apply: After completing their minimum service obligations, applicants can apply online, in person at a VA regional office, at their school, or by mail.

Post-9/11 GI Bill

The Post-9/11 GI Bill pays homage to veterans who served after Sept. 10, 2001. The Post-9/11 bill shortened the active-duty service requirements needed to qualify for benefits, while also extending benefits to the families of many fallen service members.

  • What's Covered: Eligible service members receive funding to cover tuition and fees, as well as a monthly housing allowance and a book stipend. The amount of funding depends on the length of time an applicant spent serving in the military.
  • Who's Covered: Service members with at least 36 months of active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, receive funding for tuition. Coverage is based on a sliding scale depending on an applicant's period of active duty.
  • How to Apply: To apply, applicants should contact the VA. The VA determines an individual's payment plan and fee schedule based on their service record.

Yellow Ribbon Program

The Yellow Ribbon Program is a collaboration between the VA and participating colleges and universities. Service members studying at a private institution may not receive full tuition coverage under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. In these instances, the Yellow Ribbon Program may cover extra tuition expenses at certain schools.

  • What's Covered: Students attending a private school or a public school as a nonresident may be responsible for tuition and fees that exceed the amount covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The Yellow Ribbon Program may cover this difference.
  • Who's Covered: Only veterans entitled to the maximum benefit rate, which is determined by service requirements, or their designated transferees can receive this funding. Applicants should not currently be on active duty.
  • How to Apply: Qualified applicants should submit an application to the VA and a statement claiming they plan on using their GI Bill entitlement. Students should also speak to their higher education institution to ensure that their school participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

National Call to Service

The National Call to Service program is administered by the Department of Defense. This benefits program helps service members who hold military occupational specialties pay for higher education or additional training. The Secretary of Defense determines the specific service and eligibility requirements for this program, and benefits can be used in conjunction with those from the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

  • What's Covered: Applicants can choose from several incentives, including a cash payment of $5,000, loan repayment up to $18,000, or an allowance equal to the three-year monthly Montgomery GI Bill active-duty rate for 12 months.
  • Who's Covered: After completing initial training, individuals must serve on active duty in a military occupational specialty for 15 months. After this, and without a break in service, these individuals must serve either an additional period of active duty (as determined by the Secretary of Defense) or a period of 24 months in the selected reserve. Any remaining service obligations must be carried out on active duty in the armed forces, in the selected reserve or individual ready reserve, or with AmeriCorps or any other national service group recognized by the Secretary of Defense.
  • How to Apply: To apply for benefits, applicants can visit the VA's website, a regional VA office, or speak to the VA certifying official at their school's financial aid office.

Survivors' and Dependents' Education Assistance

The Survivors' and Dependents' Education Assistance program was created to assist the dependents of wounded, injured, or deceased service members. Benefits allocation is carried out through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Through this program, dependents receive financial aid for various types of training. Participants can still receive benefits from other VA dependent programs.

  • What's Covered: This program covers up to 45 months of expenses for participants. Individuals receive a monthly stipend of $1,041, which can be used towards apprenticeships, flight school, undergraduate/graduate degree programs, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.
  • Who's Covered: The program helps dependents of disabled or deceased veterans who were injured while serving. Children of service members who died after Aug. 1, 2011, may qualify to receive additional benefits.
  • How to Apply: Interested applicants should contact the VA to submit an application. The office provides information about the program and lets applicants know which entitlements they qualify for.

Scholarships for Military and Veterans

U.S. Army Scholarships

U.S. Navy Scholarships

U.S. Air Force Scholarships

U.S. Marine Corps Scholarships

National Guard Scholarships

Coast Guard Scholarships

Military Families Scholarships

Resources for Active Military and Veterans

  • Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service: The U.S. Surgeon General leads this group of health professionals who work at all levels of the federal government to help people in underserved communities. Public health service military members can find helpful resources by visiting this website.
  • The Army Nurse Corps Association: This association recognizes and connects nurses working in the armed services. Members gain access to information regarding scholarships and volunteer opportunities through the association's online portal.
  • SurgeonGeneral.gov: This website features the latest news and developments issued by the Surgeon General's office. Visitors to this website can find the official Public Health Report and the Surgeon General's Report.
  • Indian Health Service: The health department developed a separate agency to help care for Native Americans; many public health service military personnel work with the Indian Health Service.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: The Department of Health is tasked with overseeing the wellbeing of all Americans through agencies and branches that provide food, healthcare, and other resources to citizens.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The CDC is a federal organization that works closely with several other agencies to study diseases and prevent and control outbreaks. Public health service military personnel work at the CDC while on active duty and after being discharged.