Military members earn access to several federal education programs. These are available during their service and following their separation from the military. The GI Bill® authorizes a complex package of benefits that includes tuition assistance, educational programs for veterans, and vocational employment services. Active-duty personnel, veterans, reservists, National Guard members, and spouses and dependents can use these benefits to advance their military and civilian careers.
Following the enactment of the Post-9/11 GI Bill® in 2010 and the drawdown of military personnel from overseas, there has been a considerable increase in military personnel and veterans using their military benefits. The Post-9/11 GI Bill makes it easier for students to use their benefits and improves the program’s flexibility. It expands benefits for veterans and dependents, making it possible to attend private and out-of-state institutions.
The medical field has a high demand for qualified nurses. There are many financial aid options available for military personnel, veterans, spouses, and civilian students interested in military service. This financial aid page goes over a few of the programs available to military personnel and veterans. It also reviews military scholarships for nursing students and other programs that are available specifically for the nursing field.
Financial Aid Programs for Military and Veterans
The Montgomery GI Bill®
The Montgomery GI Bill was the first legislation to provide educational stipends to veterans. The program is available to active duty and selected reserve military members who pay into the program for one year, with an optional Buy-Up Program to increase benefits. Stipends are paid directly to students rather than the institution.
- What’s Covered: 36 months of education in approved on-campus or online degree-granting programs, vocational training, apprenticeships, and programs in entrepreneurship or high tech fields. Certain licensing or certification exams are also covered.
- Who’s Covered: Veterans who entered active duty following June 30, 1985, must have two years of unbroken service and an honorable discharge. Different eligibility applies to active-duty service prior to 1977 and to reservists.
- How to Apply: Complete the Application for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Educational Benefits online or at a VA service center. The decision to use the Montgomery Bill is irrevocable; veterans should review their options closely.
Post-9/11 GI Bill®
The Post-9/11 GI Bill expands educational benefits for veterans and spouses. Under the Post-9/11 bill, spouses have access to educational benefits, and veterans can transfer benefits to their dependents. The program pays tuition costs directly to the institution and pays a stipend to veterans for books and housing.
- What’s Covered: 36 months of education in an on-campus or online program, a stipend for books and supplies, and a monthly housing allowance. Vocational, technical, and on-the-job training programs are also covered.
- Who’s Covered: MIlitary personnel with 90 days of active-duty service since September 10, 2001, and veterans with 30 days of active-duty service with an honorable discharge or service-connected disability.
- How to Apply: Complete VA Form 22-1990, which is available online, by mail, or at VA service centers. Veterans can request assistance from a veteran service officer to review their options and complete the paperwork.
Yellow Ribbon Program
This program is part of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. It is an agreement between the VA and participating institutions to make matching funds available for veterans attending private or out-of-state schools. Participating schools are approved degree-granting institutions that agree to a set number of scholarships per year.
- What’s Covered: The cost of tuition and fees that are not covered by Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, which generally applies to private and out-of-state tuition costs. Students must meet the same eligibility requirements as the GI Bill.
- Who’s Covered: Only veterans who receive the maximum Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit are eligible. Students must attend an approved school. Spouses, dependents, and active-duty military are not eligible, even if benefits are transferred.
- How to Apply: Participating schools have their own application requirements; generally students apply to the school with their VA Certificate of Eligibility. Schools promote their participation, and the VA website includes a list of approved programs.
National Call to Service
The Department of Defense encourages national service and attracts top talent to special occupation fields through this incentive program. The program is not part of the GI Bill and participants are not eligible for full GI Bill benefits unless they reenlist. This is another option for military nursing scholarships.
- What’s Covered: A $5,000 signing bonus, $18,000 in qualified student loan repayment, or a partial allowance under the Montgomery GI Bill or Post-9/11 Gi Bill.
- Who’s Covered: Military personnel serving in specific occupations for 15 months with an additional unbroken period of active-duty service who completed service obligations in the reserve, AmeriCorps, or on active duty.
- How to Apply: Interested participants should first contact a recruiter to see if they qualify and complete the VA Form 22-1990N (Application for VA Education Benefits Under the National Call to Service Program).
Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance
This education assistance program is for the dependents of veterans who have a permanent service-connected disability or dependents of service members who died while on active duty. It provides financial assistance to spouses and dependent survivors so that they can achieve their career goals.
- What’s Covered: A $1,000 monthly stipend for educational programs at approved degree-granting institutions, technical schools, or on-the-job training. A maximum of 45 months of benefits is covered.
- Who’s Covered: Spouses and dependents of a veteran who has a total and permanent service-connected disability, as well as survivors and dependents of a military member who died because of a disability or while on active duty or who is missing in action.
- How to Apply: Contact the VA to confirm that your program is eligible and complete VA Form 22-5490, Dependents Application for VA Educational Benefits. Students already enrolled in a program should submit their form to the school.
ROTC Nursing Programs
Army ROTC Nursing
The Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is a college elective program offered at over 1,100 schools. Students enrolled in the program complete training throughout their entire college program. The curriculum teaches leadership and military skills to prepare students for enlistment as officers. Graduates commit to a four year period of service in the Army.
The nurse training program offers practical learning experiences and military nursing scholarships for ROTC Cadets. Nursing students receive individualized mentoring and job training. The summer training program introduces cadets to the Army Medical Department and the work of an army nurse corps officer. Students receive training in clinical skills and problem solving during the paid three-week clinical experience.
The ROTC program also offers competitive scholarships for nursing students in all four years of an undergraduate program. Scholarships pay full tuition or room and board, a stipend for books, and a living allowance of $300 to $500. The scholarships are awarded based on current degree standing. Recipients must be between the ages of 17 and 26, meet physical standards, have a high school GPA of at least 2.5, a score of 1000 on the SAT, and agree to serve in the U.S. Army or reserve.
Navy ROTC Nursing
The Navy ROTC nursing program is an opportunity for students to enlist as commissioned officers in the Navy Nurse Corps while earning a bachelor of science in nursing. Students in the program are referred to as midshipmen. Midshipmen complete courses in naval science, maritime affairs, and leadership. Participants complete weekly drill instruction and two-week to four-week training periods during the summer. Upon graduation, nurses serve at least four years on active duty in the Navy Nurse Corps.
The Navy nursing scholarship is a competitive program that awards full tuition and fees, a book stipend, and a monthly living allowance. Recipients also receive Navy uniforms and textbooks and participate in three summer cruises. Navy ROTC nursing students learn technical skills in hospital and clinical settings. Navy nurses work in the field, on ships, and in hospitals with service members and their families, and with civilians around the world. Nurses may specialize in many fields, such as radiology or physical therapy.
Applicants to the Navy ROTC program must be admitted to an approved school and be between the ages of 17 and 27 with no criminal record or disqualifying moral obligations. Midshipmen must meet physical standards and medical qualifications.
Military Nursing Corps
Air Force Nursing
The Air Force Nursing Corps provides medical services to Airmen and their families in clinical, hospital, and field settings. Many Air Force nurses work on base in state-of-the-art settings, while others work in evacuation units. Nurses are commissioned officers and earn increased pay and benefits for specialized services. The Air Force offers technologically advanced training and career development opportunities that can lead to rewarding careers in military and civilian employment.
Nurses may receive specialized training at the Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills or in Expeditionary Medical Support. Training is also available in epidemiology, neonatal services, and surgery. The Air Force offers fellowships in advanced and executive development and in critical care and trauma.
Two-year and three-year scholarships are available for Nurse Corps specialties. The Health Professions Scholarship Program pays full tuition and fees for nurses pursuing advanced education at a degree-granting institution. Recipients must commit to one year of active-duty service for each year of funding.
To be eligible for the Air Force Nursing program, you must be between the ages of 18 and 48 with a degree and license in nursing. Nurses pass a selection process and commissioned officer training prior to joining the Nursing Corps.
Army Nurse Corps
The Army Nurse Corps is one of six corps of medical practitioners that serve in the U.S. Army. Nurses provide care for service members, families, and military veterans and retirees. The Army Nurse Corps offers opportunities for professional growth and continuing education. Nurses receive respect as commissioned officers who lead teams of healthcare providers. You may work in facilities that are more advanced than public or private hospitals and develop technical and problem-solving skills.
Nursing students and current practitioners are eligible for the Army Nurse Corps. The Nurse Corps offers the option of serving in the Army on active duty or in the reserves. Active-duty nurses receive a comprehensive benefits package that includes officer pay, housing allowance, and possible sign-on bonuses. A student loan repayment program up to $120,000 is also available. Nurses serving in the reserves can continue to practice in their communities while taking advantage of increased training opportunities and incentive programs. Student loan repayment up to $50,000 is available for nurses in the reserves. Military scholarships for nursing students are available for graduate degree nursing programs. Scholarships pay for tuition and fees and provide monthly pay.
Navy Nurse Corps
The Navy Nurse Corps provides nursing support for the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps. Navy nurses are referred to as hospital corpsman and can be stationed with a Navy medical facility or deployed to Navy or Fleet Marine Force units. A hospital corpsman learns skills in surgery assistance, emergency medical and dental treatment, and field-based medical care. They also spearhead many preventative care and clinical tests.
The Navy offers military nursing scholarships for postgraduate medical education. The Health Professions Scholarship Program covers tuition and a living allowance with a sign-on bonus at graduation. The Health Services Collegiate Program pays between $157,000 and $269,000 while completing graduate education, a housing allowance, and additional military pay. The Federal Assistance Program offers more than $275,000 during medical residency, an additional $45,000 yearly grant, and a monthly stipend.
Individuals without a current nursing degree interested in joining the Navy Nursing Corps must have a high school diploma and pass all requirements for enlistment in the Navy. The Navy provides training to work your way towards hospital corpsman. Training in the Navy can also lead to credentials in the medical field as sailors, who receive extensive hands-on training and one-on-one mentorship.
Nursing Scholarships for Military and Veterans
Amount: Total amount varies. The program covers full tuition and fees, the cost of books and supplies, a monthly stipend for housing, and a signing bonus.
Members of the Army, Navy, and Air Force can apply for this military scholarship for nursing students and other medical professionals. Applicants must be enlisted in one of the three branches and enrolled in an approved medical program. Following graduation, you must commit to a period of service as a medical officer.
The Army Nurse Corps offers this military scholarship for spouses and military members to pursue a career in nursing. Members of the U.S. Army and their spouses, children, and parents are eligible to apply.
Amount: Tuition and costs up to $23,671; $1,000 yearly stipend for books and supplies; monthly housing allowance
Surviving spouses and dependents of service members who died in the line of duty after September 11, 2001. This military spouse nursing scholarship provides full Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to survivors.
Amount: $10,000 and a $1,000 monthly stipend for up to 24 months
This Navy military scholarship for nursing students helps cover the cost of a bachelor of nursing degree. Students must meet requirements for enlistment in the U.S. Navy and commit to a period of active-duty service.
Students who are members of the American Legion for at least two years and are enrolled in a two-year or four-year program may apply for this scholarship. The scholarship is sponsored by the American Legion.
Amount: $1,000 – $12,000
Three scholarship programs are available for active-duty personnel, reserves, and veterans who are accepted into an eligible program. Awards are made based on need, academic merit, and educational goals.
Amount: Average award is $10,000
This prestigious fellowship is open to active-duty military, veterans, and spouses enrolled in a full-time educational program. The foundation supports service, scholarship, and humble leadership. Applicants submit a bio and two essays.
80 scholarships are available to members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Applicants must have received a Purple Heart, or be dependents of a recipient, and be accepted as full-time students in an undergraduate program.
Dependents of Knights of Columbus members who died in a military conflict or are disabled because of military conflict. Recipients must be enrolled full time at a four-year Catholic university.
One scholarship per year is available for active-duty military personnel or veterans pursuing a bachelor’s degree or doctoral degree in health or medicine. Applicants submit an essay discussing their reasons for entering the medical field.
This is a joint program with Veterans of Foreign Wars, Sport Clips, and Student Veterans of America. Military members and veterans who achieved a rank of E-5 or below are eligible to apply. Awards are based on need.
This scholarship is for veterans enrolled in an undergraduate program in the United States and is sponsored by the law office of Thomas Tona in New York. A 300 to 600-word essay is required, answering the question: how has the military prepared you for college?.
Veterans and children of veterans are eligible to apply for this scholarship, which requires applicants to write an essay. Students who already receive a full scholarship are ineligible. Applicants submit a 300 to 500-word essay about their college experience and career goals.
Veterans with a minimum 30% disability rating can apply for this scholarship offered by the law offices of David A. Black. The scholarship can be applied to a degree-granting or vocational program. A short personal statement is required with an optional 800-word essay.
Military personnel, veterans, and spouses of any military branch who are attending a college or trade school can apply. To apply, applicants submit a 250-word essay about their experience in the military and how it prepared them for higher education.
Resources for Active Military and Veterans
- Aid for Military Families: This website for the Department of Education’s federal student aid program includes a resource list for military personnel and family members and links to nursing scholarships for veterans.
- Department of Veterans Affairs: The VA website is a gateway to finding approved schools and programs, researching and applying for benefits, and keeping track of benefits-related news. Military spouses and veterans will find resources for nursing scholarships.
- Student Veterans of America: This student veteran-led organization is an active advocate for veteran education and benefits. SVA connects students with scholarships, mentorships, and other resources. It staffs support centers on many campuses.
- Veterans of Foreign Wars: VFW is a longstanding resource organization for veterans. It also offers community centers and assistance in obtaining benefits.
- Disabled American Veterans: DAV provides assistance to veterans with obtaining benefits and resources for themselves, family, and caregivers as they transition to civilian life. The organization conducts outreach programs and offers employment resources.
- American Legion: This veterans service organization is the largest in the country. Service offers specialize in assisting veterans with benefits. A resource list of state-specific educational benefits is on the website.
* 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.