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Preparing for College

If you are a veteran or currently in the military, there are programs to help you start or continue a college education. Many college campuses have dedicated counselors and advisors to help military personnel and veterans begin, transfer or transition to college.

Start at DANTES (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support), a Department of Defense agency that helps veterans and active duty military personnel get started on a college or vocational program. Here you will:

·        Learn about available educational benefits, based on your branch of service and status
·        Learn how to earn college credit for your military experience
·        Access your official military educational transcript to use for applying to college

Paying for College

New York State veterans, active-duty service members or members of their immediate families have higher education benefits that can help pay for college.

GI Bill

The Department of Veterans Affairs Post 9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill provide funding for college degree and certificate programs for those who are:

  • Active duty military
  • Honorably discharged Veterans
  • Discharged with a service-connected disability

Learn more about these valuable benefits.

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

A student who is not eligible for a Pell Grant, but whose parent or guardian was a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and died as a result of service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001 may be eligible to receive the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.

New York State Veterans and Families Benefits

Military and veterans education benefits may not cover all college expenses. Remember to apply for all the federal and state student aid you are eligible for by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (the FAFSA). If you are a New York State resident and plan to attend a college or university in New York, you may be eligible for New York’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). Learn more.

Veterans Tuition Awards

Provides awards for full-time and part-time study to eligible veterans matriculated at an undergraduate or graduate degree-granting institution or in an approved vocational program in New York State.

Military Enhanced Recognition Incentive and Tribute (MERIT) – also known as the Military Service Recognition Scholarship 

Provides financial aid to children, spouses and financial dependents of those who, while New York State residents in service in the U.S. Armed Forces or state organized militia, at any time on or after August 2, 1990, died, became severely and permanently disabled, or was classified as missing in action in a combat zone while engaged in or training for hostilities.

NYS Regents Awards for Children of Deceased and Disabled Veterans

Provides $450 per year to students whose parent(s) served in the U.S. Armed Forces during specified periods of war or national emergency and, as a result of service, either died, suffered a 40% or more disability, was classified as missing in action, or was a prisoner of war. The veteran must currently be a New York State resident or have been a New York State resident at the time of death or classification as missing in action.

Recruitment Incentive and Retention Program (RIRP)

RIRP provides college financial aid, up to $4,350 per year, to any active service member who has successfully completed advanced individual training or commissioning and other requirements of the NYS Division of Military and Naval Affairs. Information and applications for this program may be obtained from the NYS Division of Military and Naval Affairs.


Military Residency Waiver 

The New York State residency eligibility requirement for recipients of awards administered by HESC is waived for a member of, or for the spouse or dependent of a member of, the U.S. Armed Forces who is on full-time active duty and is stationed in this state.


Contact HESC’s Scholarship Unit at 1-888-NYSHESC (1-888-697-4372), or chat with us online.