Complete Guide to Military Grants
Grants for Education, Spouses, and Veterans
Whether you're active duty, in the reserves, a retired veteran or a military spouse, your service and dedication have earned you a number of benefits designed to help you lead a richer, more fulfilling life.
For those of you wanting to go to college, start up a small business or plan for your financial future, the federal government has a number of military grants in place to help. Read on to learn more about the financial aid programs available to the men and women of our armed forces as well as some challenges and alternatives associated with them.
Military Grants for College
For many people, education is the key to laying a solid foundation for life after the military. Whether you want to learn a trade, start a business or pursue a career outside of the military, a good education is vital.
The first step towards getting the financing you need is filling out a federal student aid application (FAFSA) with the U.S. Department of Education. Remember that you need to turn in a fresh application every year you’re in school.
You may also qualify under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, a benefit upheld by Congress that can help pay for all or some of your college costs, including books, tuition and housing. Regardless of how much you get under the GI Bill, it will not affect your eligibility or reduce the amount of money you could get from various other federal grants like Pell, SMART, ACG and TEACH, which are available to both service members and civilians. You have the right to apply for those just like everybody else.
Another option to consider is the Montgomery GI Bill for active duty and the reserves. With this program, you start by paying $100 per month for a full year. Then, once you complete a minimum service obligation, you become eligible to collect a monthly education benefit to help pay for tuition and expenses.
Grants for Military Spouses
With the latest rendition of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, career service members (those with at least six years of service and an obligation to serve at least four more) can now share their unused education benefits with immediate family members. This is helpful if you have to put your education on hold or your situation changes and your spouse wants to go to school too – all the unused funding transfers right over.
As a similar alternative, My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA), can provide some additional financial assistance for milspouses focused on building a career through education, licensing, certification or career training. There aren’t a ton of other grant options when it comes to starting up a business, so MyCAA might be your best bet.
Depending on what branch of the military you or your spouse serve, there may be some additional resources for you to grab hold of. For example, Army Emergency Relief (AER) offers both the Stateside Spouse Education Assistance Program (SEAP) and the Spouse Education Assistance Program (EAP). SEAP helps spouses here in the United States and EAP helps those abroad in Japan, Korea or Europe.
The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance and the Army & Air Force Mutual Aid Association are some other branch-specific entities that can help military spouses and families in times of need.
Grants for Veterans
In addition to the GI Bill discussed above, veterans and career-retired military personnel also have a number of grant opportunities. For example, Adapted Housing Grants help veterans with service-related disabilities either purchase or modify a home to adapt for necessary accommodations, to help ease the financial burden. Visit the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to learn more about housing grants.
There are also a number of small business grants available via entities like VetFran, the federal government and the Small Business Administration (SBA). Check at your local library or search online for a complete list of available military grants for veterans.
Challenges You Could Face
With many of these programs, the application processes can be long and arduous – it takes time to fill out the application, there are often specific timeframes you’re limited to, and then you have to play the waiting game. Maybe you get approved, maybe you don’t. In either case it could take a while for you to get your money.
Regarding the educational benefits, your continual collection of financial aid depends entirely on your performance and progress. You may have to maintain a certain GPA or be on track to graduate in a 4-6 year time frame – every grant is different. Falling behind can mean a loss of benefits and a continual struggle to fund your education.
If you don’t qualify for a military grant or you can’t meet the terms and conditions, you might want to consider a personal military loan to help with school expenses. Make sure you plan ahead and think things through before applying for any financial aid. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.