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Tactical Veteran: Keep your eyes open for generous state education benefits for veterans

Oct. 21, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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Most veterans know all about federal education benefits: the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Yellow Ribbon Program and more. But fewer know what state benefits can help them — and even their spouses and children.

Unfortunately, information about state benefits is rarely advertised, nor is it provided to you when you separate. But thanks to the Internet and veterans organizations, the information is becoming readily available. For example, I only learned about the New York State Veterans Tuition Award when I stumbled upon the information on the state website. Having an Expeditionary Medal made me eligible for that money, which I didn’t have to pay back.

But it’s vital to know what education benefits your state has to offer. For instance, state benefits could help a Vietnam veteran who is no longer eligible for the GI Bill pay for training or even a degree. State benefits may also completely cover the tuition of a child who lost his or her parent who was serving on active duty. A few more examples:

California: Tuition fee waivers for certain veterans’ dependents. If you’re the spouse or a child of a veteran who is totally disabled or has died due to service-connected causes, you may qualify for a waiver of tuition and fees for any California university, California community college or University of California location. www.calvet.ca.gov/vetservices/DEA.aspx

Minnesota: Veterans Education Assistance. Similar to the New York State Veterans Tuition Award, the Minnesota State Veterans’ Education Assistance program offers eligible Minnesota veterans extra money toward tuition. You don’t have to pay this money back, either. www.mn.gov/mdva/resources/education/vea.jsp

New Mexico: Vietnam Veterans’ Scholarships. This is a program created to pay for full tuition and books for Vietnam veterans who are undergraduate or graduate students attending public postsecondary institutions in New Mexico. The scholarships are like an award, with nothing to pay back. www.dvs.state.nm.us/benefits.html

Washington: Veterans Tuition Waiver. For Washington veterans or National Guard members who attend a state school, you too have an opportunity to have “all or a portion of tuition and fees” waived. Check with your campus adviser for specifics. www.dva.wa.gov/veterantuitionwaiver.html

Wyoming: Operation Recognition for high school diplomas. If you are a World War II, Korean or Vietnam War veteran who never earned a high school diploma because of your service, this is your chance. Thanks to Operation Recognition, the Wyoming Veterans Commission will make sure you receive your honorary diploma. wyomilitary.wyo.gov/veterans-commission/Veterans-Resources

For more information on what your state may offer, check out this list created by the American Legion: www.legion.org/education/statebenefits. Most importantly, be sure to check with your state’s veteran benefits website to get updated information and get in contact with your state’s veterans service officer, who can help you with further information.

Next column, we’ll take a look at state veteran employment benefits.

Steven Maieli is the founder of TransitioningVeteran.com, which highlights links to federal, state, for-profit and nonprofit veterans benefits and other resources. He also writes a blog on transitioning veterans’ issues at www.transitioningveteran.com/wordpress.
Send questions and comments to tacticalveteran@militarytimes.com.

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