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Last updated October 17, 2023

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Veteran Student College Admission & Funding

Key Takeaway

Veterans and their dependents can access various benefits to support their college education, including the GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program, which provide financial aid and cover tuition, housing, and other expenses.

Not all college students enter college right out of high school. In fact, many don’t!

If you’re a veteran, you may be one of these students, which are often called “nontraditional.” Even if you’re the dependent of a veteran, you may also have some benefits that your peers don’t have access to.

In this post, we’ll talk about applying to and funding college as a veteran.

Let’s jump into it.

Apply to College as a Veteran

Applying to college as a veteran will look different depending on your background.

If you’ve never attended college before, you’ll apply as a first-year student. “First-year students” are those who have never enrolled in a college class.

On the other hand, if you have taken college courses since graduating high school—even for a single term—you should apply as a transfer student.

Once you determine which designation is most appropriate for you, you’ll apply just like any other student. For most schools, that means applying through the Common Application.

Benefits for Veterans and Their Dependents

There's more to VA benefits than just the GI Bill. Veterans' education benefits include financial aid for undergraduate and graduate degrees, vocational and technical training, licensing and certification tests, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training.

If you're a dependent of a veteran, you might also qualify for some benefits.

Let’s look at two important sources of funding: the GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program.

GI Bill

The benefits from the GI Bill can cover lots of college-related expenses, including tuition and fees, housing, and books and supplies. If you need financial support to move from a rural area to attend a college, you may also be able to get a one-time payment to support your move.

To check if you're eligible for GI benefits, visit And if you have a post-9/11 GI Bill, you can see the state of your benefits on the VA’s website.

You may also be wondering if these benefits expire. If you exited the service prior to January 1, 2013, your GI Bill benefits expire after 15 years. If you exited the service after January 1, 2013, then your benefits do not expire.

The Yellow Ribbon Program

Another important benefit is the Yellow Ribbon Program. If you're eyeing a school that costs more than what the GI Bill covers, you should be looking at schools labeled as Yellow Ribbon Schools. These schools have made an agreement with the VA to help cover veterans’ financial need.

Through the Yellow Ribbon Program, the VA matches each dollar that a school contributes. So if your chosen college offers $5,000 in Yellow Ribbon scholarships, the VA will also pitch in $5,000, giving you a total of $10,000 extra in aid.

The VA even has a tool to help you find schools that participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program. Check out the Find a Yellow Ribbon school tool here.


For veterans and their dependents, a college education doesn't have to come with a giant price tag. Benefits like the GI Bill can cover all or part of your education and training costs. Plus, there are other VA benefits and the Yellow Ribbon Program that can help meet any unmet financial need. To verify your eligibility for these benefits, visit At the same time, make sure to build a strategic college list that targets institutions that will offer Yellow Ribbon Benefits if you need them.


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