Free veteran programs
Student veterans have access to a handful of unbelievable organizations. Each one of the following programs is unique yet shares a common goal to assist you in your pursuit of higher education, for free.
Of note, there are plenty of other resources for veterans that help with many different subjects, but the following resources are not only specifically geared toward student veterans, but personally endorsed by the members our team.
Warrior Scholar Project
Free 1-2 week academic bootcamp at elite universities
“As a dynamic national non-profit, we empower enlisted military veterans by providing them with a skill bridge that enables a successful transition from the battlefield to the classroom, maximizes their education opportunities by making them informed consumers of education, and increases the confidence they will need to successfully complete a rigorous four-year undergraduate program at a top-tier school.”
Learn more from our representative, Anthony Lenkiewicz Jr. (Dartmouth ’22), and his experience as a Warrior-Scholar Project fellow.
Service to School
Free virtual mentorship and a chance to give a detailed explanation of your military accolades to their partner schools
“Service to School has partnered with select colleges and universities to form VetLink, a network of schools committed to expanding access and opportunity for student veterans. Our partner colleges are widely known for academic excellence, aspiring students, leading-edge research, and high graduation rates.”
Learn more from our representative, Jonathon Longcoy (Penn ’21), and his experience as an S2S ambassador.
Link: “63% of S2S Mentees Went on to Enroll at US News Top 50 Colleges”
Stanford University: Veteran Accelerator
Stanford’s free 8-week summer course, designed for veterans in their first two years of school
“Stanford Summer Session’s Veteran Accelerator is an eight-week, full-scholarship program designed for military veterans in their first two years of study and are headed towards a four-year degree or beyond. The program builds on a veteran’s significant military experience to further develop important academic, professional, and personal skills needed to thrive at a four-year institution. The Veteran Accelerator allows students to take two to three courses during the Summer Quarter at Stanford, while living on campus as participants in an active learning community.” For questions, email: email@example.com.
Learn more from our representative, Lyndsea Warkenthien (Stanford ’23).
The Pat Tillman Foundation
The Pat Tillman Foundation honors Pat Tillman’s legacy in many ways. For student veterans specifically, they offer an incredible scholarship. One can apply to become a Tillman Scholar every February to join an extremely competitive group of high-achieving, driven individuals. As many Tillman Scholars have mentioned, the financial aspect of the scholarship is fantastic, but the community is invaluable.
“Tillman Scholars also receive invitations to events like the annual Pat Tillman Leadership Summit in Chicago, entry to Pat’s Run, access to $1,000 mini grants to further their leadership development through training, certifications or events. We are also able to offer access to premier partner events, including SXSW, Inc. 500 / 5000, the Aspen Ideas festival and more. And we highlight your stories, studies and service efforts through our website and social media.”
Creating a cohort of sponsored veterans, sending you to their partner colleges on a full scholarship (combined with your GI Bill)
“The Posse model works for both students and college campuses and is rooted in the belief that a small, diverse group of talented students—a Posse—carefully selected and trained, can serve as a catalyst for individual and community development. As the United States becomes an increasingly multicultural society, Posse believes that the leaders of the 21st century should reflect the country’s rich demographic mix. The key to a promising future for our nation rests on the ability of strong leaders from diverse backgrounds to develop consensus solutions to complex social problems. Posse’s primary aim is to train these leaders of tomorrow.”
Learn more from our representative, Kaedy Puckett (UChicago ’23), and her experiences as a current Posse scholar.
Columbia University: Center for Veteran Transition and Integration
Note: CVTI is useful for applying to all schools, not just Columbia itself.
CVTI provides innovative educational programming and support for veterans making the transition to two- and four-year colleges, graduate and professional schools, civilian life, and the workforce.
“CVTI draws on Columbia’s expertise in curriculum development, instructional technology, and support services in facilitating veterans’ success in an academic setting. In collaboration with a network of public and private partners, CVTI serves military service members at all levels, enlisted and officers, as well as active-duty military personnel preparing for transition, veterans already in higher education, and veterans in the workforce, providing them with the best-in-class resources that they need to ensure their continued academic and professional development.”
For more videos like this one, visit CVTI’s Video Library.
Free SAT preparation and online subject matter assistance
“Our mission is to provide a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere.”
“20 hours of practice on Khan Academy is associated with an average 115-point score increase from the PSAT/NMSQT to the SAT, nearly double the average gain without Khan.”
“In 2017, Khan Academy and the College Board, the maker of the SAT, analyzed gains between the PSAT/NMSQT and the SAT and found a positive relationship between use of Official SAT Practice and score improvements on the SAT. Score gains are consistent across gender, family income, race, ethnicity and parental education level.”
“Army Smart provides free online math, statistics, and standardized test tutoring to members of any branch of the military, veterans and dependents to help them achieve their further education goals.”
“Army Smart is a program that pairs service members with experienced tutors from military backgrounds capable of adjusting their teaching style to make understanding math and statistics as easy as possible. If you are active duty, a reservist, a veteran, or a dependent from any branch of the military who is struggling with a college level math or statistics course we can provide you with free weekly tutoring sessions to help you succeed. Classes will be conducted over either Zoom or Google Hangouts using an interactive whiteboard.”
Primarily focusing on: Introduction to Statistics, Business Statistics, Introduction to Probability Theory, College Algebra, Linear Algebra, Introduction to Geometry, and Calculus I, II, III.
Veteran Friendly Universities
We can’t stress this enough: competitive universities want to diversify their classrooms with high achieving student veterans such as yourself. Some colleges have gone so far as to create their own programs in order to exclusively target nontraditional-student recruitment. We promise to keep this page updated as more opportunities arise.
Columbia University: School of General Studies
A college within Columbia University, specifically tailored to the needs of nontraditional students
“Core Strategy: By recognizing the diversity and specific needs of the veteran student, we sustain communication, collaboration, and innovative engagement with both the veteran and non-veteran community to provide the platform needed for veterans to successfully integrate, participate, and graduate – ultimately pursuing their goals within society.”
Learn more from our Representative, Hayden McGrath (Columbia ’22).
Yale University: Eli Whitney Program
Welcoming nontraditional students with exceptional backgrounds and aspirations
“The Eli Whitney Students Program (EWSP) at Yale is designed for individuals with high academic potential who have had their education interrupted, at some point during their educational careers, for five or more years.”
Learn more from our Representative, Kurt Nowak (Yale ’22).
Brown University: Resumed Undergraduate Education
Bringing nontraditional students into their flexible, open curriculum
“The Resumed Undergraduate Education (RUE) Program is a small, highly competitive program ideal for students who interrupted or delayed their formal education due to family commitments, financial concerns, health issues, military service, employment opportunities or simply a compelling need to explore other paths.”
Learn more from our Representative, Seth Bae (Brown ’22).
University of Chicago: Veteran Scholars
“Every veteran and service member who engages in this application will be offered support throughout the application process along with college counseling.”
“Our pioneering admission process is designed to support veteran applicants by building a relationship between you and the University. This includes tailored individual guidance, opportunities to interview, and multiple routes to success such as rolling admissions opportunities along with scheduled notification options (Fall, Winter, and Spring). The application itself is set into a 4-step process designed to offer flexible options that acknowledge your service-transition timeline … all the while supporting you with advisor access.”
Learn more from our Representative, Kaedy Puckett (UChicago ’23).
Georgetown University: School of Continuing Studies
Veterans can (and do) attend all of the Georgetown colleges. SCS is just their college specifically tailored to nontraditional students, specifically targeting undergraduates in the form of the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies.
“The Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies (BALS) was designed for non-traditional students interested in a values-based interdisciplinary education. The BALS program helps students build a multidimensional understanding of a complex world. The Core Area curriculum brings together work from a variety of integrated disciplines in the areas of Culture, Humanities, Natural Sciences, Philosophy, Social Sciences, and Writing. Additionally, students choose one or more of the following Concentrations: Business and Entrepreneurship, Humanities, Individualized Study, International Relations, Professional Media and Communication.”
Learn more from our Representative, Alex McPherson (Georgetown ’23).
VA Education Benefits
As a veteran, you qualify for some extraordinary benefits to aid you through education. It is essential that you do your due diligence, and it is in your best interest to use the benefits below to their fullest extent.
Depending on your intended university and field of study, different benefits (or combination of benefits) will better fit your needs. Figuring out which programs to use will require your own personal research, and we suggest consulting with the veterans’ office at your given institution.
Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33)
“The Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) helps you pay for school or job training. If you have served on active duty after September 10, 2001, you may qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33).
You can receive up to 36 months of benefits, including:
• Tuition and fees. If you qualify for the maximum benefit, the Post-9/11 GI Bill will cover the full cost of public, in-state tuition and fees. The Post-9/11 GI Bill will cap the rates for private and foreign schools, and update those rates each year.
•Money for housing (if you’re in school more than half time). The Post-9/11 GI Bill will base your monthly housing allowance on the cost of living where your school is located.
• Money for books and supplies. You can receive up to $1,000 per school year.
• Money to help you move from a rural area to go to school. You may qualify for this one-time payment of $500 if you live in a county with 6 or fewer people per square mile and you’re either moving at least 500 miles to go to school or have no other option but to fly by plane to get to your school.”
Yellow Ribbon Program
The Post-9/11 GI Bill has an annual cap of about $24k for tuition and fees. Yellow Ribbon schools voluntarily match VA funds to cover anything over $24k. Different schools will have different agreements: sometimes the Yellow Ribbon Program will pay for some of the remaining tuition after $24k, and sometimes it will cover everything. It is always school specific (talk to your school’s veteran office).
“The Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program (Yellow Ribbon Program) is a provision of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. This program allows institutions of higher learning (degree granting institutions) in the United States to voluntarily enter into an agreement with VA to fund tuition expenses that exceed either the annual maximum cap (of the GI Bill) for private institutions or the resident tuition and fees for a public institution. The institution can contribute up to 50% of those expenses and VA will match the same amount as the institution.”
Montgomery GI Bill
Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD): “The Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD) can help you pay for education and training programs if you have served at least 2 years on active duty.”
Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR): “The Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) program offers up to 36 months of education and training benefits. If you’re a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard Reserve, Army National Guard, or Air National Guard, you may be eligible for this benefit.”
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E)
“You may receive Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) services to help with job training, employment accommodations, resume development, and job seeking skills coaching. Other services may be provided to assist Veterans and Servicemembers in starting their own businesses or independent living services for those who are severely disabled and unable to work in traditional employment.”
“The VR&E process is designed to assist Veterans with service-connected disabilities to obtain suitable employment and/or achieve independent living goals. It is comprised of several phases, involving tasks for both VR&E staff and Veterans to complete.” See general process here.