States offer free college tuition to veterans

There are nearly 22 million veterans in the United States, many of whom are struggling to find their place in the civilian world. College is a way to chart a new path, but federal education assistance programs are often not enough to make going back to school affordable.

States That Offer Free College Tuition to Veterans
States That Offer Free College Tuition to Veterans

Some states now offer free tuition to veterans at state-funded colleges and universities. Eligibility and eligibility vary by state — some state tuition-free programs require veterans who have served in combat, others require them to be medal recipients.

Check out these programs in more than a dozen states.


State law allows free tuition at all state universities and community technical colleges for some veterans.

To qualify, a veteran must have served 90 days of service during the war and be admitted to an approved school.

Click here for more information and ask for additional qualifications.


The Sunshine State will waive college tuition at the state’s universities and community colleges for Florida veterans who have received Purple Hearts or other combat-related decorations that are ranked higher priority.

Click here for more information.


The Illinois Veterans Assistance program covers tuition and some fees at all state-supported community colleges, universities, and colleges. Veterans must be honorable and be residents of Illinois for six months before enlisting.

The veteran must also complete at least one full year of service and return to Illinois within six months of his discharge.

Click here for more information.


Purple Heart Medal recipients who enlisted with a permanent address in Indiana and were discharged emergently are eligible for a 124-hour tuition and fee waiver at a state-backed college or university.

Click here for more information.


All Massachusetts veterans who are legal residents of the state and do not default on any federal student loan are eligible for a full or partial exemption from tuition for any state-supported course in an undergraduate program at a public college or university.

Click here for more information.


Veterans eligible for free tuition in Montana must be honorable, have served in a war zone, and receive a Campaign or Expedition medal. Veterans must also be classified as residents in the state and have exhausted the benefits of their federal GI Bill to be tuition-free.

For more information click here and here.

New Mexico

The Vietnam Veterans Scholarship will cover all tuition and books at any state-funded high school for veterans who have served in Vietnam and are awarded the Campaign Or Service to Vietnam Medal. Veterans must also be residents of New Mexico for a minimum of 10 years.

Click here for more information.

New York

Empire State veterans can apply for the Veterans Fee Award, which can cover the full cost of college tuition for New York State residents at the State University of New York.

Click here for more information and eligibility requirements.

South Dakota

Eligible veterans who are not subject to educational assistance under the GI Bill or any other federal education program may receive one month of free tuition per month of eligible service for up to four years of study.

South Dakota defines “eligible service” as the period of service in the off-duty service from the start to the end of a period of conflict or hostility.

Click here for more information and eligibility requirements.


As part of the Hazlewood Act, the Lone Star State provides eligible veterans with free tuition, including multiple fees, for up to 150 hours at public colleges and universities.

Eligibility requirements include serving at least 181 days of service, being discharged or honorable, and not defaulting on any state student loans. The Hazlewood Act does not cover living expenses, books, or supply fees.

Click here for more information and additional eligibility requirements.


Purple Heart recipients are eligible for tuition waivers at all public colleges and universities in Utah, including undergraduate and master’s degree programs.

Click here for more information.


Each college and university establishes its own waiver programs for eligible veterans, although state law allows institutions to waive all tuition and fees.

Click here for more information.


Wisconsin’s GI bill provides a full tuition and fee waiver for eligible veterans for up to eight semesters or 128 hours of credit, whichever is greater. The exemption can be used for undergraduate, masters, or doctoral degrees at any University of Wisconsin or Wisconsin Technical College in any degree program.

Veterans must be Wisconsin residents at the time of the start of their on-duty duty or have been established residents for at least five consecutive years just before the start of the semester or course. Veterans must maintain at least a 2.0-grade point average to be eligible for benefits and receive no less than the honorable discharge.

Click here for more information.


Some veterans in Wyoming are eligible for free tuition and fees for 10 semesters at the University of Wyoming or the state’s community colleges. To qualify, a veteran must be a resident of the state for at least one year before applying and have received another discharge certificate at a despicable rate. This benefit is for Vietnam War veterans who served from August 5, 1964, to May 7, 1975, and veterans who fought abroad who have received the Order of Expedition or equivalent.

Click here for more information.

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