We Want YOU to Earn Your Degree: Financing Options for Veterans


The transition from service to civilian life is a rich, multilayered experience filled with opportunity and challenge. Although it can be tough to segue from the order, camaraderie and structured self-improvement of military life, the very thing that makes civilian life so different from active duty is also what makes it exciting: freedom.

That freedom is vast in the choices it offers. Now that you've crafted your best self, you have the freedom to pursue a career path of your choosing. With that comes the freedom to zero in on the graduate degree path that best prepares you for your dream job. Veterans deal with very real personal trials on the journey from soldier to civilian, and the government ensures that if you've served and you want to finance your continuing education back home, you'll find plenty of helping hands along the way.

The Big Bill

Think of the Post-9/11 GI Bill as the go-to source for financial assistance when you're pursuing a graduate degree as a veteran. There's a reason for the big bill's reputation as the de facto standard –it's just as extensive as you've heard. If you pursue higher education at any time up to 15 years from your release from active duty, the GI Bill covers tuition and fees for 36 months. It also provides additional perks such as an annual books and supplies stipend, a one-time rural benefit payment and a monthly housing allowance.

If you choose the flexibility of an online master's degree from the University of Miami –which has perks such as multiple start times, flexible participation and optimization for mobile devices –you can still reap the bill's extensive benefits. Your monthly housing allowance is all that changes if you take 100 percent of your classes online; it’ll be a little less than the allowance received by on-campus students –about $805 as of the summer of 2016. Of course, it’s hard to put a value on the flexibility that comes from taking classes anywhere you’d like, even if “anywhere” means 1,000 miles away from campus.

Your experience will stack up to that enjoyed by your on-campus peers at UM, with access to the same world-class faculty and the same 180,000 plus alumni network. The GI Bill puts online degrees from an MSN in nursing informatics to a master's in sports administration well within your grasp.

Scholarships: Options on Options

If the GI Bill doesn't completely cover your tuition and expenses, a cornucopia of veterans-only graduate scholarships can help make up the difference. The Google SVA Scholarship caters to vets studying computer science and computer engineering, while the Anne Gannett Award for Veterans helps former music students who interrupted their studies to serve.

On the off chance that there's not a scholarship that aligns with your focus, don't worry. Dozens of awards cast a wide net, like the $2,000 Veterans United Foundation Scholarship, the $12,000 SVA-NBC Universal Scholarship, the $10,000 PNC-SVA “Serving with Integrity” Scholarship, and the variable Tillman Military Scholars Program. All offer generous assistance to honorably-discharged veterans across the board.

Prepping Your Journey

Get ready to embrace the flexibility and freedom of an online grad degree by applying for GI Bill benefits online or in person at your local Veterans Affairs office. Then put together a list of veteran-oriented graduate scholarships that fit your eligibility profile. Gather your vital info and apply it to the scholarships on your list before their submission deadlines. Allow at least 24 hours for online submissions and a week or more for mailed-in apps.

You can never be too well prepared, just as the armed forces taught you. As U.S. Army veteran and online master's student Isaiah Ruffin says, "When planning my academic route, I focused on the step after the next step." You can never be too well prepared, just as the armed forces taught you. Continuing your education is just one step on your journey towards civilian life; when you learn in the virtual classroom, that step doesn’t have to trip you up –many of UM’s online students are already working professionals, completing their education in their downtime. As U.S. Army veteran and online master's student Isaiah Ruffin says, "When planning my academic route, I focused on the step after the next step." Combining work, life and online learning must just be the best way to put one foot in front of the other.

If you need a little help with those steps, UM's Veterans' Affairs Certifying Officials, Veteran’s Affairs Office, and Veteran’s Student Organization are here to help you start learning again, whether you plan to become a Hurricane on campus or online. Dedicated military enrollment officers, accessible academic advising and career resources are always available when you need them. When your service comes to an end and your pursuit of education continues, let UM serve you.