Studies show that military personnel have begun to pursue college degrees at much higher rates than ever before. Programs like the Post-9/11 GI Bill® make it easier for service members to pay for their education. A study by the American Council on Education found that the Post-9/11 GI Bill contributed $53 billion to an investment fund to help educate over one million service members.
A study by the American Council on Education found that the Post-9/11 GI Bill contributed $53 billion to an investment fund to help educate over one million service members.
As the federal government continues to invest in the education of its service members, the number of veterans affairs nursing scholarships has increased. Service divisions like the Navy, Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC), and the armed forces offer special programs to train nurses and prepare them for work as military healthcare professionals. Children and spouses of reservists, veterans, and active duty members can also apply for certain scholarships. Being affiliated with a military personnel member opens doors to several benefits and educational assistance programs.
Nursing is a growing sector in both civilian and military communities. Students interested in a nursing degree can read this financial aid page to learn how the military is assisting nursing majors by paying for school through veterans affairs nursing scholarships, helping with job training, and finding jobs. Programs such as the ROTC and Navy ROTC also make it easier for students to pay for school.
Financial Aid Programs for Military and Veterans
The Montgomery GI Bill®
The Montgomery GI Bill extends financial assistance to service members pursuing higher education or other forms of training. The bill is part of an entitlement program that members contribute to over an extended period of time.
What's Covered: The GI Bill covers educational training for military personnel pursuing college degrees, certificates, apprenticeships, flight training, high-tech training in the animal sciences or food and technology, and entrance exams.
Who's Covered: This bill provides financial assistance to service members and veterans who spent at least two years in the armed services. During both years, members must have been on active duty.
How to Apply: Service members and veterans qualify for the program if they contributed at least $100 per month over a 12-month period to the GI fund or $600 to the Buy Up program.
Post-9/11 GI Bill®
After September 11, 2001, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) amended the GI Bill to include special provisions for service members who were active during and after 9/11. The Post-9/11 GI Bill includes two programs -- the Yellow Ribbon Program and a Transfer of Entitlement Option -- that were not available under the initial GI Bill.
What's Covered: The Post-9/11 GI Bill covers a variety of educational pursuits, including licensing and certification reimbursement, correspondence training, cooperative training, vocational/technical training, and attending college.
Who's Covered: The bill exclusively covers service members with at least 90 days of active duty since September 10, 2001. Service members currently on active duty and honorably discharged veterans can also apply to the program.
How to Apply: Service members apply for benefits by sending a written election statement to the VA. Members discharged before January 2013 have up to 15 years to use of their benefits.
Yellow Ribbon Program
The Yellow Ribbon Program exists under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Applicants receive tuition assistance at public universities that choose to participate in the program. Schools that opt in work with the VA to create a program.
What's Covered: The Yellow Ribbon Program covers tuition and fees for students at public universities. It may also partially cover tuition at private universities.
Who Qualifies: Veterans, designated transferees of veterans, and transferees of active duty service members who qualify for educational benefits can apply to this program. However, the Yellow Ribbon Program is not open to active duty service members.
How to Apply: Educational institutions that participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program send an applicant's information to the VA. Each school registers a set number of students with the program and notifies applicants if they have been accepted.
National Call to Service
The Department of Defense created its own benefit program to honor members who dedicate time to the armed services. This benefit program helps service members with specialty occupations pay for school or repay their student loans. Applicants may be able to use this benefit program in conjunction with other veterans affairs nursing scholarships.
What's Covered: The bill provides financial assistance to service members who meet certain eligibility requirements. Members can receive $5,000 in cash, have up to $18,000 in student loans repaid, or receive an allowance of up to $1,564.
Who Qualifies: Only applicants who served in a military occupational specialty, such as a foreign language interpreter, can apply. Applicants must have served for at least 15 months in this specialty role.
How to Apply: To enroll in the program, applicants must submit their information to the VA. Applicants can coordinate National Call to Service benefits with GI Bill entitlements and veterans affairs nursing scholarships.
Reserve Educational Assistance Program
The Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP) was recently discontinued. However, although new service members can no longer apply to this program, veterans who served prior to November 2015 may still receive benefits to pay for school or work-related training.
What's Covered: REAP supplies financial aid to certain service members seeking higher education or training. The program covers vocational training, on-the-job training, apprenticeships, and the cost of exams.
Who Qualifies: Veterans, reservists, and National Guard members who attended school prior to November 2015, or were eligible to enroll in school before 2015 but elected not to go, may still qualify to receive REAP benefits.
How to Apply: The REAP program officially ended in 2015. The VA is currently evaluating REAP applications and may decide to give applicants benefits under a different program.
Survivors' and Dependents' Education Assistance
This assistance program offers financial aid to active duty members, reservists, veterans, and their family members. Funding helps the dependents of disabled or deceased vets afford school. Once enrolled, applicants can receive continued benefits for several years.
What's Covered: The Dependents' Education Assistance initiative covers degree- and certificate-related expenses, apprenticeships, job training, correspondence courses, and refresher or remedial courses. Applicants receive up to 45 months of coverage under this program.
Who Qualifies: The program was established for dependents of veterans who died in the line of duty or were disabled by a service-related incident. The program does not assist veterans.
How to Apply: Applicants must fill out the the Application for Survivors' and Dependents' Education Assistance form (VA form 22-5490).
ROTC Nursing Programs
Army ROTC Nursing
The Army ROTC nursing program lets students interested in the nursing field enlist in the Army and train to become Army nurses. As an Army ROTC cadet, students complete college coursework while fulfilling their ROTC duties. During this time, the ROTC pays the student's tuition and gives them a monthly stipend. After graduation, students enter the army as officers. Participants must dedicate at least eight years to the armed forces. The first four years must be spent on active duty, while the remaining four can be fulfilled in the reserves.
While enrolled in the ROTC, cadets take part in a nurse summer training program. This three-week program is a paid internship where cadets receive placements in Army hospitals throughout the U.S. In these hospitals, participants work with first and second lieutenants to provide one-on-one care to patients. Cadets go through standard clinical rotations, but the Army hospital patient load is smaller than the load at a civilian hospital. An Army Nurse Corps officer supervises the program and helps cadets learn more about Army healthcare and procedures. Once enlisted, Army nurses can focus on a variety of medical specialties to help different patient populations.
Air Force and Navy ROTC Nursing
The ROTC also has divisions catering to the Navy and the Air Force; students can major in nursing while in college and then choose to join a faction of the NROTC or Air Force ROTC. The NROTC nursing option is available to students pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing. During their enrollment, students must also fulfill naval requirements to become shipmen. They must complete courses in the naval sciences, maritime affairs, seapower, and leadership. NROTC cadets become commissioned as naval officers once they graduate from the program.
The Air Force ROTC offers many scholarships to its members, including nursing scholarships for veterans, if they meet some basic requirements. To qualify, individuals must complete a 24-day field training course, a general military course, and a professional officer course. Cadets must also agree to serve in the Air Force for four years as officers. The Air Force provides cadets with a stipend for living expenses and books. It also cover travel expenses for cadets traveling to and from Air Force ROTC facilities. To qualify for Air Force ROTC scholarships, students must also earn an exceptional score on the SAT or ACT exam and pass the Physical Fitness Assessment. The final application step is an in-person interview with an Air Force ROTC leader.
Military Nursing Corps
Air Force Nursing Corps
The Air Force division of the armed forces gladly welcomes nurses into its ranks. Nurses represent part of a team of healthcare professionals who take care of airmen on the ground and in the air. All Air Force nurses serve as captains. The Air Force offers many incentives to nurses, including scholarship and fellowship opportunities. For example, the Additional Graduate Education fellowship allows students to pursue a nursing specialty at a civilian university. Other programs, like the Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills, prepares nurses to work at emergency and trauma centers.
As a flight nurse, registered nurses work with other critical care health professionals to safely transfer patients to medical facilities. Flight nurses work on life flights where they assist patients in critical condition who need airborne transportation to a hospital. These nurses keep the patient stable and alert en route to the facility. In addition to working on aircraft, Air Force nurses may also help infants at neonatal and perinatal intensive care units.
The Air Force affords nurses the opportunity to sharpen their skills through continuing medical education coursework. Through career development programs, nurses can gain experience with state-of-the-art technology and train to work in high-security areas like the White House.
Army Nurse Corps
The Army Nurse Corps is an organization that operates under the U.S. Army Medical Department. Currently, the Army Nursing Corps supports several initiatives, one of which is the Patient Caring Touch System. This system consists of a collection of clinical best practices for patients. The Army Nurse Corps also identifies important health-related causes and advocates for health-related issues within their ranks.
Students can join the Army Nurse Corps while enrolled in school or after graduating from a nursing program. Membership is not mandatory, but the corps is filled with educational opportunities for new officers. The Army Nursing Corps works closely with the Army Medical Department to educate and train nurses. Corps members can take courses and apply for fellowships and nursing scholarships for veterans. Members receive financial assistance from the corps when they enroll in school, and the corps website also provides information about military schools that specialize in nurse training. Many members go on to earn a master's or doctoral degree in nursing and work as nurse anesthetists or midwives at Army facilities.
Navy Nurse Corps
Navy nurses may work in traditional hospital settings, operating X-ray equipment and maintaining patient records. However, their duties also include working in the field with Seabees, Navy SEALs, and the Fleet Marine Force.
The Navy refers to its nurses as hospital corpsmen. These professionals work alongside other naval members on ships and submarines. New recruits go through a nine-week recruit training session before receiving formal Navy training, which lasts 19 weeks. Once nurses complete their formal training and learn the basics of patient care, the Navy assigns them to service hospitals or ships. The Navy also has its own college that awards degrees and scholarships to qualified students. In 1972, the Navy created the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Degree Network System to make it easier for traveling sailors to earn their degrees. The system works with other colleges to enroll sailors in courses. The program may also help students find nursing scholarships for veterans.
To join the naval nursing program, applicants must be high school graduates and U.S. citizens. Once enlisted as sailors, participants work with the Navy to complete their degree and fulfill service obligations.
Nursing Scholarships for Military and Veterans
Army Nurse Corps Association Education Fund
Who Can Apply: ANCA awards scholarships to students enrolled in an accredited undergraduate or graduate degree program pursuing a major in nursing or nursing anesthesia. Applicants must be a parent, spouse, or child of someone that served in the U.S. Army.
Illinois AMVETS Sad Sacks Nursing Scholarships
Who Can Apply: In-state students graduating from an Illinois high school and entering a nursing program, or students already enrolled in an in-state nursing program, can apply to this scholarship fund. Applicants should have a strong academic record and be the child of a disabled or deceased veteran.
Army Women's Foundation Legacy Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: AWF provides financial support to women who served in the Army, Army Reserve, or National Guard, as well as their children. Applicants must be enrolled in a degree or certificate program at a college or university.
Combat Medic Service Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship offers financial support to service members who worked as medics in the military and received a Combat Medic badge. Eligible applicants must show proof that they currently serve in the Army Reserves or National Guard. They must also maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA while majoring in a health-related field.
Jack E. Barger, Sr. Memorial Nursing Scholarship Fund
Who Can Apply: This scholarship fund is open to Pennsylvania residents serving as active duty service members, veterans, or the child/spouse of a service member or veteran.
Foundation of the National Student Nurses' Association General Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: These scholarships provide financial assistance to students pursuing a nursing degree in a specialty field, such as oncology.
Health Professions Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: Active duty service members pursuing an advanced degree in a specialty nursing sector can apply. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen and qualify as a commissioned officer to be eligible for this scholarship.
Amount: Full tuition plus a $2,200 monthly stipend
Who Can Apply: AMVETS presents this scholarship to high school seniors pursuing an undergraduate degree. Applicants must be the child of an active duty service member, veteran, or a member of the guard/reserves.
Dr. Aurelio M. Caccomo Family Foundation Memorial Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship was created to honor the late Dr. Caccomo and his contributions to the Army as a doctor and surgeon. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and be active duty service members or veterans of the armed forces.
Amount: $3,000 annually for four years
Navy Marine Corps Relief Society Education Assistance Program
Who Can Apply: This relief society provides grants to children of active duty, retired, or deceased Marines. Applicants should be registered in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System.
Society of Army Physician Assistants
Who Can Apply: Members of this society, their spouses, and their children can apply for scholarships. To qualify, applicants must send a copy of their transcripts and a letter stating their financial need.
Pat Tillman Foundation
Who Can Apply: This scholarship focuses on active duty service members and veterans pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in the medical field.
Military Officers Association of America American Patriots Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship provides education assistance to the children of service members killed in the line of duty. Applicants must also be eligible to receive Traumatic Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance.
Council of College and Military Educators Scholarship
Who Can Apply: To qualify, applicants must be service members or the spouse of a service member. They must also attend an institution that is a CCME member.
Resources for Active Military and Veterans
- Tricare: This healthcare database helps members find military hospitals, clinics, and treatment facilities.It also supplies coverage information related to vision, special needs, and other types of healthcare.
- Air Force Financial Assistance Program: The Air Force offers its own nursing scholarships for veterans through several financial aid programs. Some of these programs cover the full cost of tuition as well as a stipend for other expenses
- Air Force Officer Qualifying Test: The U.S. Air Force ROTC requires members to take a qualifying test. Depending on their scores, cadets may be selected to receive officer training or become an Air Force pilot.
- U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs: Service members looking for current information regarding military benefits and their policies can refer to this government website. The VA also features information related to veteran affairs nursing scholarships, grants, and loans.
- CollegeScholarships.org: Students seeking more nursing scholarships for veterans can visit this website to learn about various veteran-specific education assistance programs.
- Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps: The NROTC operates under its own jurisdiction with rules, regulations,and requirements that differ from the traditional ROTC. Students can learn more about these differences by visiting the NROTC's website.
* GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at https://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill/.