Many students join the military to receive support for their education. Since the introduction of the Post-9/11 GI Bill®, the number of service members and veterans applying their military benefits toward higher education has increased significantly. As of 2012, four out of five undergraduates involved in the military applied for and received some sort of financial aid. Military personnel and veterans seeking an education in counseling can take advantage of scholarships and grant opportunities. Although the majority of large tuition scholarships come from the federal government, students can also apply for scholarships and grants that originate from private organizations and groups who wish to honor military service members or their families.
This financial aid page explores both the general aid available to veterans and military personnel and the financial aid options specific to those planning to enter counseling. All service members, including active duty personnel, reservists, National Guard members, and veterans, can find a scholarship that suits their qualifications and career goals. While many scholarships cover the cost of tuition, some also cover the cost of books, campus fees, housing, and medical benefits. Some even provide a monthly stipend.
Financial Aid Programs for Military and Veterans
The Montgomery GI Bill®
The Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD) and the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) serve those enlisted in the U.S. armed forces. The MGIB-AD provides education assistance to veterans and active duty service members who possess at least two years of duty. The MGIB-SR helps eligible Selected Reserve members access training benefits and education.
- What's Covered: Recipients of both Montgomery Bills (AD and SR) can receive up to 36 months of education benefits. Active duty service members can also contribute to a $600 buy-up program and receive additional monthly benefits that add up to $5,400.
- Who's Covered: Service members and veterans who hold at least two years of active duty experience, receive (or have received) an honorable discharge, and possess a high school diploma or GED may apply for MGIB-AD. Selected Reserve members who hold a six-year obligation to the SR, complete their active duty training, and possess a high school diploma may apply for the MGIB-SR.
- How to Apply: Eligible service members must complete VA Form 22 1990, the application for VA benefits. Before applying, they should gather their social security number, education and military history record, bank account information, and information about the educational program they wish to attend.
Post-9/11 GI Bill®
Administered through the VA, the Post-9/11 GI Bill provides up to 36 months of education or job-specific training benefits to active duty service members who served for at least 90 days after September 10th, 2001. It also applies to honorably discharged service members who served for at least 30 days.
- What's Covered: Recipients receive up to 36 months of benefits for college classes and training programs. These benefits can fund a variety of programs, such as flight training, correspondence training, and vocational training. The bill also covers tuition for undergraduate and graduate programs and reimburses students for licensing fees and national testing.
- Who's Covered: Eligible applicants include active duty service members who completed at least 90 days of service after September 10th, 2001 or honorably discharged members who completed 30 days of service. The bill also covers those who received a service-connected disability discharge. Before receiving benefits, service members must elect to irrevocably receive the Post-9/11 GI Bill, precluding them from receiving benefits through another bill.
- How to Apply: Eligible members can discuss their eligibility and apply in-person at their local VA office. They can also request an application through the mail or apply online. They will need their social security number, bank information, military and educational history, and information about the program they wish to pursue.
Yellow Ribbon Program
Institutions of higher learning can elect to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, a provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Schools participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program will supply additional funds for students whose Post-9/11 GI Bill does not cover the full amount of their tuition or fees. The school agrees to pay 50% of these remaining expenses, and the VA may also match this amount.
- What's Covered: Schools in the Yellow Ribbon Program elect to pay up to half the amount of tuition and fees not covered under the Post 9/11 GI Bill. The VA also contributes funds.
- Who's Covered: Veteran service members who qualify for the maximum benefit rate (100%) under the Post-9/11 GI Bill and who apply to a school that participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program can receive the program's benefits. Active duty members and their family members do not qualify.
- How to Apply: Veterans eligible for 100% benefits through the Post 9/11 GI Bill will receive a Certificate of Eligibility. Veterans then give this certificate to their participating school. If the school's Yellow Ribbon Program harbors available slots, the school will include these additional benefits in their award letter and certify the student's enrollment through the VA.
National Call to Service
The National Call to Service provides educational benefits such as a monthly allowance, loan repayment, and cash bonuses to serve members who complete a specific sequence of service requirements. These requirements occur in three tiers. Although administered through the VA, the program originates in the Department of Defense.
- What's Covered: Recipients can elect to receive a $5,000 cash bonus, up to $18,000 in qualifying student loan repayments, or either an allowance equalling the three-year monthly chapter 30 rate for a year ($1,564) or half of the three-year monthly chapter 30 rate for three years (about $600).
- Who's Covered: To become eligible, service members must first serve in a military occupational speciality for 15 months. They must then serve an additional two years in the Selected Reserve. Finally, they must fulfill the remainder of their commitment in one or more of the following programs: Selected Reserved, the Individual Ready Reserve, armed forces, Americorps, or another program outlined through the Secretary of Defense.
- How to Apply: Veterans may apply online or visit their local VA office to determine their eligibility. Those who enlist under the National Call for Service cannot also receive benefits through the Montgomery GI Bill unless they enlist for an additional two years.
Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance
This program provides education and job training benefits to dependents of veterans who died or incurred a total and permanent disability while serving in the armed forces. This includes veterans currently in a hospital who will likely receive a discharge because of their injury, veterans missing in action, and veterans detained behind enemy lines.
- What's Covered: Dependents receive up to 45 months of benefits. They may apply their benefit toward a degree, apprenticeship, certification, or on-the-job training program. Spouses may also apply their benefit toward a correspondence course. Recipients may qualify for additional support through other GI Bills for a combined total of 81 months of support.
- Who's Covered: Sons, daughters, and spouses of veterans who died or sustained a service-related permanent and total disability. Children who wish to use their benefit for school must do so between the ages of 18 and 26.
- How to Apply: Dependents must complete an application for VA education benefits: Form 22-5490. They must then send this form to the VA regional processing office in the state where they wish to receive their benefits. Students already enrolled in a program must give their school the 22-5490 form and request that the school also complete and submit VA Form 22-1999, which will certify their enrollment.
Scholarships for Military and Veterans
U.S. Army Scholarships
NBCCF Military Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Each year, the National Board of Certified Counselors Foundation awards five scholarships to veterans and service members pursuing careers in clinical counseling. The award also recognizes the spouses of veterans and service members. Applicants must attend a master's level CACREP-accredited program and commit to counseling military personnel for at least two years.
U.S. Army Health Professions Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: The U.S. Army covers the cost of graduate or medical school for active-duty members pursuing a professional health career, including students enrolled in an APA-accredited clinical counseling or psychology program. Eligible students must qualify as a commissioned officer and maintain full-time enrollment.
Amount: Full tuition, $2,200 monthly stipend, books and fees
Army Scholarship Foundation Scholarships
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate students at accredited education or technical institutions who exhibit academic excellence and a record of community participation can apply for one of the foundation's many scholarships. Recipients must reapply for scholarships each year.
Amount: $500 - $2,000
ROTC Army Scholarship for High School Students
Who Can Apply: High school students who plan to attend a four-year college and who commit to eight years of service with the U.S. Army can receive this scholarship. This commitment involves four years of full-time Army service and four years with the Individual Ready Reserves.
U.S. Navy Scholarships
Who Can Apply: The Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps provides full academic support to students in the NROTC program. NROTC students pursue their normal four-year baccalaureate degree while simultaneously fulfilling NROTC duties such as naval science classes, drills, and summer trainings.
Amount: Tuition, fees, stipend, and monthly allowance
Navy Counselors Association Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Navy Counselors Association (NCA) awards academic scholarships to dependents of active NCA members. The award recognizes undergraduate students at four-year universities who possess a minimum 3.0 GPA and who demonstrate community involvement.
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Education Assistance
Who Can Apply: NMCR provides interest-free academic loans and grants to the children (age 23 or younger) and spouses of retired, deceased, or active-duty sailors and marines. Applicants must attend an accredited two or four-year institution, including undergraduate, post-secondary, vocational, or technical schools. Candidates must also exhibit financial need.
Amount: $500 - $3,000 per year
U.S. Air Force Scholarships
U.S. Air Force ROTC Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students who receive this scholarship agree to join their school's Air Force ROTC program -- which requires a summer training course in Alabama, a general military course, and a professional officer course. After graduating, they agree to serve as an active-duty Air Force Officer for at least four years.
Amount: Tuition, fees, books, and $500 monthly allowance
George and Vicki Mueller Foundation
Who Can Apply: Each year, the Air Force Association awards two scholarships to Silver Wing and Arnold Air Society students pursuing undergraduate studies. The leaders of both organizations determine the scholarship selection criteria.
Captain Jodi Callahan Memorial Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Air Force Association awards an active-duty Air Force member pursuing a master's degree in a non-technical subject at an accredited university. Applicants must submit a letter of recommendation from their Air Force commander or supervisor and a short essay.
Col Loren J and Mrs. Lawona R Spencer Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Air Force Association awards scholarships to U.S. Air Force personnel studying management and administration at the graduate level in the hope of assuming a senior-level leadership position. The association awards students based on their academic and professional achievement and the quality of their application, which includes a short essay.
U.S. Marine Corps Scholarships
The NROTC Marine Option Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students enrolled in the NROTC program can apply for this scholarship. Students in the NROTC program study naval science and spend two summers learning about the navy and marines. Their third summer, students attend Officer Candidates School in Virginia. After finishing their studies, students commission with the Marine Corps as a second lieutenant.
Amount: Tuition, fees, and monthly stipend
Frederick C. Branch Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship awards two, three, and four-year NROTC scholarships to students enrolled at one of the country's 17 historically black colleges and universities.
Amount: Tuition, fees, and monthly stipend
Pedro Del Valle Leadership Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This award recognizes leadership ability among students enrolled in an NROTC program at a hispanic-serving institution. Depending on the program, scholarships provide two, three, or four years of financial support.
Amount: Tuition, fees, and monthly stipend
National Guard Scholarships
National Guard Simultaneous Membership Program
Who Can Apply: Full-time undergraduate students who agree to join both the ROTC and the National Guard can receive financial support from this two-year program. Members receive mentorship from a unit officer and attend drills once a month. Upon graduation, members serve with the National Guard or Army.
Amount: $9,000 state tuition reimbursement, $250 per credit federal assistance, and stipend
Dedicated Army National Guard (DEDNG) Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports undergraduate students involved in a Simultaneous Membership Program who commit to serving eight years with the National Guard upon graduation. Applicants must first complete their ROTC basic-course or combat-training requirements. Graduate students who only require support for two years of study can also apply.
Amount: Tuition, $1,200 for books, and a monthly allowance
Guaranteed Reserve Forces Duty (GRFD) Scholarship
Who Can Apply: College juniors and seniors who possess a 2.5 GPA and who belong to a National Guard Simultaneous Membership Program on their school's campus qualify for this scholarship. After graduating, recipients must serve in the National Guard for eight years.
Amount: Tuition, $1,200 for books, and a monthly allowance
Coast Guard Scholarships
College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports sophomores and juniors pursuing their bachelor's degree at a minority serving institution (e.g. a historically black college or university, hispanic serving institution, or Alaska-native serving institution). During school, students participate in Coast Guard duties and trainings. Upon graduating, they serve four years in the Coast Guard and four years as an inactive Reserve.
Amount: Two years of full funding (tuition, books, fees, salary, housing, and medical benefits)
Pat Tillman Foundation Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship recognizes exceptional service, scholarship, leadership, and impact among veterans and their spouses from all military branches, including the Coast Guard. Applicants must plan to pursue a degree (bachelor's, graduate, or professional) at an accredited institution. The scholarship awards applicants based on their application materials, including two essay responses.
Amount: $10,000 (renewable each year depending on GPA and community involvement)
CGMA Supplemental Education Grant
Who Can Apply: The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Supplemental Education Grant helps pay costs not covered through other Coast Guard tuition assistance programs. The program assists coast guard service members seeking their college degree, GED, or technical training certification. Only CGMA clients may apply.
Amount: Up to $500 per year
Military Families Scholarships
Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund
Who Can Apply: This scholarship provides educational support to the children of military members killed or permanently disabled during a mission or training. High school seniors and current undergraduate students under the age of 26 may apply.
Navy League Foundation Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Navy League Foundation awards scholarships to high school seniors who plan to attend college. Children and grandchildren of retired or active members of the sea services may apply. Children of those serving in the Naval Sea Cadet Corps may also apply.
Mike and Gail Donley Spouse Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Air Force Association awards this scholarship to two spouses of service members in the Air Force Active Duty, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, or employees in the Department of the Air Force Civilian. The scholarship supports spouses currently pursuing or about to pursue a degree. Actively enrolled students must possess a 3.5 GPA, submit an essay, and supply two letters of recommendation.
Colonel Aaron Burgstein Memorial Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Air Force Association awards one scholarship to the child of an Air Force service member, preferably the child of someone who served for at least eight years or who died or incurred an injury during service. The scholarship recognizes students who exhibit academic excellence, a commitment to others, and outstanding character.
Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation Undergraduate and Associate Degree Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation provides educational assistance to the children of Marine and Navy personnel. This scholarship awards students pursuing a degree or certification from a two or four-year program or a certification program longer than 12 months. Scholarships vary depending on financial need.
Resources for Active Military and Veterans
- State Veterans Affairs Offices: VA offices can help veterans apply for educational benefits. They also provide assistance with accessing healthcare benefits, loans, financial services, and rehabilitation. Veterans seeking educational support or benefits should locate their local VA office.
- The American Legion: The American Legion advocates for veterans and provides a variety of programs and services. It helps veterans find jobs, manage their finances, access healthcare, and pursue education.
- The Military Veteran Project: Through research and treatment, the Military Veteran Project strives to prevent suicide among military service members and veterans.
- Military Spouse Employment Partnership: In partnership with the Department of Defense, this program helps military spouses become ready for employment and connect with potential employers.
- AMVets: As a congressionally chartered organization, AMVets boasts more than 250,000 members. Members enjoy benefits such as healthcare programs, career help, and scholarships. They also enjoy discounts on insurance, hotels, car rentals, and vacations.
- Veterans of Foreign Wars: The VFW supports armed forces veterans and active duty service members who served in foreign territory or waters. Members enjoy discounts on things like insurance, travel, and end of life services.
* GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.