Most states provide some form of education financial aid to their military members – past and present. Some of the programs apply only to veterans while others cover currently serving, including National Guard and Reservists. Below is a sampling of some of the more lucrative and unique state benefit programs:

  • Non-Military
  • Military
  • Reciprocity


Alabama Student Grant Program – Their program offers up to $1,200 per year for Alabama students to go to one of 13 schools. It is not need-based.

Vermont Need-Based Grants – This state has three different types of grants: Incentive, Part-time and Non-Degree. Each type serves a different group of students depending on their education goals. Amounts awarded range from a low of $425 to $12,050 per academic year, depending on the amount of need and funding available.

New Jersey Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) program – If awarded this grant, tuition is covered in full for undergraduate students enrolled in an approved degree or certificate program in the state. This grant can be renewed annually if the need is still there and the education program is incomplete. Typical amounts range from $2,732 at County Colleges to $12,686 at various Independent Colleges and Universities.


Minnesota GI Bill – This financial aid program provides full-time students up to $1,000 per semester for tuition. Students must live in the state and be honorably discharged veterans of any branch of the armed forces at any time. The same benefit is also offered to currently serving military members with a cumulative total of five years or more as a member of the MN National Guard or any other active or reserve component with service after September 11, 2001.

Iowa National Guard Tuition Benefits – Their program is simpler, in that it provides up to $2,700 per semester for full-time students who are currently serving in the Iowa National Guard.

Montana Honorably Discharged Veteran Tuition Waiver – To qualify for this benefit, honorably discharged veterans must have in-state resident status, have used up their GI Bill benefits, and have served in a war zone and been awarded the Campaign or Expeditionary medal.


The advantage of reciprocity is a student from one state can attend college in another state having a reciprocity agreement and not have to pay out-state tuition, which can cost up to three times as much as the cost of resident tuition. Most states participate in one form of reciprocity or another, however, currently the only states that do not are Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Some states like Florida, North Carolina and Texas exempt only their grad schools from reciprocity.

There are four main regional reciprocity agreements in place that cover the following states in each region:

  • Northeast – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
  • West – Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
  • Midwest – Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wisconsin
  • South – Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia

Because Washington D.C. is not a state, it has its own reciprocity grant. It awards up to $10,000 per year to eligible students to attend any school they want outside of the D.C. area.

NOTE: None of the resources listed in this article need repayment.

Tapping into educational benefits provided by your state is another way to help fund, your post-secondary education. Many of these benefits can also be used with either the Montgomery or Post 9/11 GI Bills. Experiment with mixing and matching all benefits to find the best combination for your education

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.