Scholarships for Military Dependents

Get Help Paying for College

ScholarApril is Month of the Military Child, and we’re celebrating with several blogs throughout the month that focus on military kids. This blog focuses on scholarships available to military dependents.

While college has certainly never been cheap, it has become almost prohibitively expensive in recent years. According to the Institute of Education Sciences, the cost for annual undergraduate tuition, room and board at public institutions rose 42 percent from 2000 to 2011, while prices at private not-for-profit institutions rose 31 percent (both after adjusting for inflation). Those increases have led to students taking out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, causing them to start out their adult lives with five or even six figures worth of debt.

Military dependents, however, have a distinct advantage when it comes to paying for school thanks to the thousands of grants and scholarships available to them. And while we certainly don’t have the ability share where to find each and every last one of them, the following will hopefully make your scholarship search a bit easier.

  • Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)—The U.S. Department of Education is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation, and this site is where you begin the process of qualifying for that aid. You do so by filling out the “Free Application for Federal Student Aid.” While it might not be required for most scholarships, it is still something you really should do, as there are millions of dollars in grants and other federal assistance available each year. 
  • Department of Veteran’s Affairs—The VA runs the Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) program, which offers tuition assistance to dependents of service members (including step-children and those who were adopted) under specific circumstances. Their PDF brochure goes into more detail about who is eligible and for how long.
  • Department of Education—This page covers federal student aid for military dependents, including some links to webpages featuring scholarships and other assistance. It also features a great section on avoiding scholarship scams.
  • The Department of Labor—This government-run site has an impressive feature that allows you to narrow down your search quite a bit, so you don’t waste time reading about scholarships that don't apply to your situation.
  • Scholarships for Military Children Program—Run by the Fisher House Foundation, these scholarships are primarily funded through donations made by suppliers and companies whose products are sold in the military’s commissary system.
  • Heroes' Legacy Scholarship—These scholarships are also offered through the Fisher House Foundation, and honor those who have been killed in action or have become disabled through their military service since September 11, 2001. More than $1 million was disbursed for the 2013-2014 school year.
  •—Started in 1994, FinAid is one of the oldest scholarship sites on the Internet. It provides a wealth of information and resources for a very wide range of situations and is a site well worth exploring in detail.
  • American Legion—This nearly 100-year-old organization offers several scholarships, including one for baseball players and another for winners of an oratorical contest. Each one varies in how much is offered and their qualifications, so make sure to check their requirements thoroughly.

The key to taking advantage of any of these scholarships is to apply by the deadline and ensure the application is completed in its entirety. If you do so and qualify, it can ensure you get the education you want without the debt you don’t. 

Be sure to check out some of our other blogs focused on military children!

Mark Dye

About the author: Mark Dye

Mark Dye has been writing articles, recording podcasts, and putting together books on personal finance for nearly a decade. His work has been recognized by the American Bankers Association and the Institute for Financial Literacy, and received an 2011 APEX Grand Award for Writing. Follow Mark on Google+.

Contact: Mark Dye


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