What are the top scholarships for military veterans?

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Military service is a powerful force for good in the world and in the domestic sphere. Servicemen and women are some of the strongest, most noble and most altruistic people around. Unfortunately, when the tour of duty ends and it’s time to return to civilian life, military veterans tend to get the short end of the stick. All too often, veterans are denied the basic rights they fought so hard to protect.

A college degree is a great way to help integrate a veteran back into civilian life. Unfortunately, the typical college tuition is beyond the scope of most military pensions. Veterans need some assistance to afford proper schooling. Thankfully, there are quite a few scholarships available specifically for members of the military. Here are 25 of the best available.

These are some of the best available scholarships, but they are by no means the limit of the assistance available to military veterans. For additional resources, the Department of Defense publishes an annual resource with over 1,400 additional scholarships, found here. This resource is kept up to date by the two departments in question, and can be a very valuable resource.

1. Imagine America’s Military Award Program

One of the best available scholarships for veterans, the Military Award Program is a $1,000 award offered to two select students each year. This exclusivity makes it somewhat hard to get, so applicants are encouraged to apply early, well before the deadline of June 30th. Applicants must be active duty, reservist or honorably discharged from a United States military service branch. Additionally, applicants are required to attend one of the universities on the Image America list.

2. The University of Colorado Helen Werth Smith Memorial Scholarship

Incoming freshmen, returning students or transfer students entering academics at the University of Colorado are eligible for the Helen Werth Smith Memorial Scholarship. This financial aid is available to honorably discharged veterans of the military, and are awarded based on financial need and academic merit. The reward is $1,000 and requires filing a FAFSA to qualify. The University of Colorado offers a range of other scholarships as well, so the site is worth checking out.

3. The Horatio Alger Association National Scholarship Programs

One of the better national scholarship programs, the Horatio Alger Association has a significant amount of funds to throw around to a large number of students in a variety of fields. Among those is the Horatio Alger Military Veterans Scholarship, which is available to any military veterans or active duty servicepeople who participated in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom or select programs since September 11th.

4. The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society’s Education Assistance Program

Available to active or retired sailors or marines, their spouses or their children, this set of scholarships and grants cover a number of bases. Up to $3,000 per academic year is available in a mixture of grants and interest-free loans. The money is limited in application, provided as it is directly to the educational institution, but it can be of great help to those looking for some annual tuition assistance. Applicants must be enrolled in a full-time program in an accredited university in the United States. Applicants must also maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better.

5. The National Board for Certified Counselors Foundation Military Scholarships

One of the biggest problems faced by retired military personnel is the risk of mental health issues and the lack of available treatment. This scholarship aimed to assist with this issue by helping train military members as counselors and mental health professionals. Applicants must be members of the military on active duty or who have retired within the past five years with an honorable discharge. The deadline to apply is November 1 for the following academic school year.

6. The Pat Tillman Foundation Military Scholarship

Each year, the Pat Tillman Foundation offers a number of scholarships to a class of military servicepeople. The deadline for this scholarship is in early March each year. Applicants tend to number over 5,000, but only 60 are chosen. This exclusive scholarship is of great help to those with the demonstrable motivation to change the world around them for the better. A Tillman scholarship is a powerful credential on its own, and well worth the application.

7. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Sports Clips Help a Hero Scholarship

This interesting new scholarship offers awards of up to %5,000 to qualified applicants, making it one of the best military scholarships available. Applicants must be United States citizens who are retired, honorably discharged or active duty members of the military, National Guard or reserve. Completion of basic and advance training is required, as is a military rank of E-5 or below. The application process is unique among scholarships and involves video clips.

8. The Army Women’s Foundation Legacy Scholarship

Based in Fort Lee, Virginia, the Army Women’s Foundation specifically honors the service of women in the United States army. The Legacy Scholarship offers financial aid to the women in uniform and their descendants. Depending on the school of the applicant, awards range from $1,000 to $2,500, making it potentially one of the better available scholarships. As with most scholarships, this one requires certain GPA levels to be maintained during the school year to maintain eligibility. This scholarship closes early, so check back often for opening dates.

9. The Troops to Teachers Scholarship Program

Troops to Teachers is a joint effort between the United States Departments of Education and Defense. The goal is to fund and guide military members into new careers as educators for the next generation of Americans. Only certain target schools are eligible. Only residents of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin are eligible. However, despite the stringent restrictions, this is one of the best scholarships available. Awards can range from $5,000 to $10,000 as stipends to help with teacher certifications or as awards for those who teach in certain low income schools.

10. The Veterans United Foundation Scholarship

Founded and funded by the Veterans United Home Loans organization, this scholarship aims to help those who, despite the GI bill, still find themselves lacking in support. Tuition is incredibly expensive, even for retired military members, and this scholarship looks to help with this problem. Each year, a total of 20 scholarships are awarded, to the tune of $2,000 each. A minimum 2.5 GPA is required to maintain eligibility. Additionally, the Veterans United Home Loans program will help military veterans obtain low or no interest home loans, for a successful return to civilian life.

11. The AFCEA Afghanistan and Iraq War Veterans Scholarship

Provided by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, this scholarship is available to any U.S. military veteran or reservist who was honorably discharged or remains in active duty. Applicants must have taken part in operations Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom. Candidates must also enroll in specific qualified degree programs, mostly focusing on computers, communications and engineering. Scholarships total $2,500 and the deadline for application is May 1.

12. The AMVETS Dr. Aurelio M. Caccomo Family Foundation Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship was established to honor Dr. Aurelio M. Caccomo, a physician born in Rome who emigrated to the United States. His foundation offers two $3,000 scholarships each year, specifically for veterans of the military, including National Guard and Reserves members. Applicants must also demonstrate financial needs, have a High School diploma or equivalent degree, be enrolled in an eligible program and must not be in default on a federal student loan. Some other restrictions apply, but in general, they are the same as for most other military scholarships. The deadline for applications is April 15th for this scholarship.

13. The American Legion Auxiliary Non-Traditional Student Scholarship

The American Legion created this scholarship to encourage non-traditional students, members of the American Legion, to attend school. Unfortunately, only a single scholarship of $2,000 is awarded each year per geographic region. Eligible students must be a member of the American Legion, Legion Auxiliary or Sons of the American Legion, with dues paid for two previous years in addition to the year of application. Only specific training programs and college degree programs are eligible. Fortunately, this is exclusive company, so if you are eligible, you have a reasonable chance to earn the money. Deadlines for the scholarship are March 1 of each year.

14. The Samsung American Legion Scholarship

Another scholarship managed by the American Legion, the Samsung scholarship comes as a reward from Samsung to those who aided Korea in the Korean War. Nearly 100 students are awarded this scholarship each year, taking a share of the $300,000 in total awarded each year. Eligible applicants must be high school juniors who attended either the American Legion Auxiliary Boys State or Girls State. They must also be direct descendants of American Legion members who served in the Korean War.

15. The Arizona American Legion Auxiliary Wilma Hoyal-Maxine Chilton Memorial Scholarship

This full $1,000 scholarship is available to any resident of Arizona, but preference is given to discharged military veterans or their immediate family. The scholarship applies to any qualifying student enrolled in Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University or the University of Arizona. Students must be enrolled as a second-year political science, public program or special education major. The deadline to apply is May 15.

16. The Army Aviation Association of America Scholarship

Known as the AAAA, this scholarship is provided to members of the Army Aviation Association of America, their spouses or their dependents. Membership dates must be before May 1 of the year previous to the applicant year. Some other restrictions apply. The scholarship is somewhat exclusive, due to the limited access of the membership, but that simply makes it a better opportunity for those who qualify.

17. The Datatel Scholars Foundation Scholarship

Operated by Berkeley, the Datatel Scholars Foundation has a number of scholarship awards for eligible students with the Angelfire scholarship. This scholarship honors soldiers who have served in combat. Only those who attend a datatel client institution are eligible for the money from this scholarship. It is primarily for those who served in the Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Berkeley has a number of other scholarships for military members as well.

18. The Smith College School for Social Work Scholarship for Military Personnel

Smith College is a school dedicated to helping servicemen and women return to civilian life through a degree in social work, through which they can help other retired or discharged military veterans. The reward is available only to active duty, veteran or retired members of a branch of the military. The deadline for application is January 5.

19. The North Carolina Vietnam Veterans’ Scholarship

Four students each year are awarded this scholarship, which amounts to $500 per student. Applicants must be a serviceman who served in the Vietnam War, their spouse, child or grandchild. Additionally, they must reside in Wake County or a nearby county in North Carolina, making this a very limited scholarship. Other requirements are lax, including a GPA of 2.0 or higher. Applications must be postmarked by February 28 for consideration in the following academic year.

20. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy Scholarship Program

Funded and judged by the VFW, this particular scholarship isn’t entirely limited to military personnel. The competition is an audio essay contest, hosted on an annual basis. The VFW offers a grand prize of $30,000 to the winner of this contest, along with a trip to Washington, D.C. and several smaller prizes to winners from each state. The VFW also offers several other financial aid opportunities for military members, so their financial aid page is worth a look.

21. The Military Order of the Purple Heart Scholarship

Military service is dangerous, and many active duty military members are wounded or killed in action each year. Those who are awarded a Purple Heart are eligible for certain assistance. This scholarship is eligible to the recipients of the Purple Heart, their descendants and their spouse. It is one of the few good things to come from the tragedy that leads to a Purple Heart.

22. Hero at Home’s Daniel Drevnick Memorial Fund

The stated goal of the Hero at Home organization is to assist the transition from active duty military service to domestic law enforcement. To assist in this, the Daniel Drevnick Memorial Fund was established. This fund is open to any military member who served between September 11th and the present, has completed basic and advanced training and who is enrolled in a law enforcement program in Minnesota. The application also requires a written essay.

23. The Carnegie Hero Fund

Though not specifically geared or limited to military veterans, the Carnegie Hero Fund is awarded to those who have demonstrated acts of heroism or valor. Often, exceptional military service is a good qualifier for these awards. Few are awarded this medal, but it can never hurt to take the time to apply.

24. The Arizona American Legion Auxiliary Past Presidents’ Parley Nurses Scholarship

This scholarship is limited to veterans or their immediate families, who live in Arizona and who are enrolled in an accredited school providing a degree in nursing. They must be participating in that program and must provide several pieces of information along with the application. The scholarship is $600 and is awarded annually. Though limited in scope, it is one of the better scholarships for those who qualify for the specific niche.

25. The AFCEA Disabled War Veterans Scholarship

It is a sad fact of life that military service is dangerous, and no small number of veterans return from service with harsh disabilities. The government provides some support for disabled veterans, and among those organizations providing support is the AFCEA. This scholarship is available to disabled war veterans, specifically those who are disabled due to wounds sustained during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is no GPA requirement, but applicants must declare a major in one of a limited number of degrees to qualify. The deadline to apply for this scholarship is May 1.

With millions of people in active duty in the American military, and millions more with honorable discharged or retirement under their belt, military scholarships are widespread and varied. Many of them have stuff competition or very strict requirements, but military members know that persistence is the key to success. With the range of available scholarships, it’s entirely possible for an active duty or retired military veteran to earn a full ride through school. This greatly increases the successful return to civilian life that so many members of the military find so difficult.

Let it never be said that Americans do not take care of their own veterans. It’s a difficult thing that military members do, and they deserve every ounce of the honors and every cent of the awards they are given when they return from duty and enter civilian life once more.