Scholarships provided by military benefits associations can help offset the high costs of higher education for military dependents and veterans. We will explore the scholarships offered by some of the largest military non-profits for the 2024 school year and provide you with all the information needed to determine which opportunities may be the best fit.
Background on Military Benefits Associations
Military benefits associations are non-profit organizations that work to advocate for service members, veterans, and their families. Some of the largest and most well-known associations include:
Air Force Association (AFA)
Founded in 1946, the AFA advocates for U.S. Air Force and Space Force interests on Capitol Hill and works to educate the public on the critical role airpower plays in national security. The association has over 100,000 members and provides a comprehensive benefits package, resources, and support for the entire military community.
Army Emergency Relief (AER)
AER has provided over $1.8 billion in interest-free loans and grants to soldiers and veterans since 1942. Their mission is to help Army soldiers and families facing financial difficulties meet their emergent needs and achieve financial stability.
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA)
CGMA has served Coast Guard members and their families since 1924 by providing financial assistance during times of need. They offer grants, loans, and scholarships for education and emergencies.
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Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (MCSF)
Since 1962, MCSF has awarded over $300 million in scholarships to help dependent children of Marines and Navy Corpsmen achieve their higher education dreams. They are the Marine Corps’ largest private scholarship provider.
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS)
NMCRS has assisted Navy and Marine Corps families with financial, educational, and other support needs for over 100 years. They offer interest-free loans, grants, and educational support.
These five associations will be focused on in this post due to their size and the extensive scholarship opportunities they offer each year. Understanding their missions and how to take advantage of their programs can help many military families afford the rising costs of advanced education and training.
Before diving into specifics about association scholarships, it’s important to understand some key concepts that apply across all award opportunities:
Each scholarship will clearly define who is eligible to apply. Most focus on dependent children and spouses of active duty, retired, reserve, or deceased military members. Academic merit, civic involvement, and financial need are often considered.
Thoroughly reading application instructions is crucial. Key dates, required documentation, essay prompts, and any additional materials needed must be addressed. Applications are usually available online and due between January and April for the following academic year.
Award Amounts and Renewal
Scholarship values range from $1,000 up to full tuition and expenses. Multi-year renewable awards are common if academic performance standards are maintained. Funds may be used at any accredited college, university, or vocational/technical school.
Recipients are typically informed between May and July. However, application reviews can extend into fall if funds remain. Not being selected one year does not disqualify reapplying in the future with an improved application.
With this baseline understanding, we’ll now explore specific scholarship opportunities from each association and how to maximize your chances of receiving one. Clear and thorough applications are key, so gather the required documents early.
Air Force Association Scholarships
The Air Force Association (AFA) scholarship program aims to support the higher education of dependents of the Air Force, Space Force, and some Reserve/Guard members. Here are the major scholarships offered for 2024:
Up to $2,000 is awarded to married spouses of active duty, retired, or deceased Air Force/Space Force members pursuing an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree. Applicants must demonstrate citizenship, financial need, and academic promise.
For students participating in AFA’s CyberPatriot program, which promotes cyber education and awareness. Values range from $1,000-5,000 based on performance and involvement in the program.
General Henry H. Arnold Education Grants
needs-based grants of up to $2,000 are available to dependents for undergraduate or graduate study in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields directly relevant to national security.
AFA also offers awards targeting specific career fields like acquisition, nursing, or focusing on dependents of wounded/fallen/POW/MIA service members. All have separate applications due in early 2022.
To learn more about AFA’s robust scholarship offerings and eligibility criteria, visit [website link redacted]. The application and required materials are thorough but worthwhile if you qualify for one of their generous opportunities.
Army Emergency Relief Scholarships
While best known for its interest-free loans, Army Emergency Relief (AER) also awards substantial multi-year scholarships to children and spouses of active duty, retired, or deceased Army soldiers. Here are some top scholarships:
MG James Ursano Scholarships
For undergraduate study, this award provides up to full tuition and fees (capped at $25,000/year) for 4 years to children and spouses. Highly competitive and selects those exhibiting strong leadership, academics, and service.
Command Sergeant Major David P. Payne Scholarships
For children of active duty, retired, or deceased E5-E9 enlisted soldiers. Provides up to $5,000 per year for up to 5 years of undergraduate study based on merit and need.
ArmyU Virtual Campus Scholarships
For soldiers utilizing Tuition Assistance, this $2,000 one-time award assists with expenses not covered while earning a degree online through Army partner schools.
AER also offers targeted scholarships based on specific MOSs, unit affiliations, and needs. The application is available starting in January, with deadlines usually in April. AER scholarship recipients are selected through a rigorous committee process.
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Scholarships
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) is dedicated to helping the entire Coast Guard community through difficult times. Their scholarship program focuses on dependents achieving their educational dreams:
Family Scholarship Program
Provides up to $5,000 per academic year for up to 4 years of undergraduate study. Open to unmarried children and qualified family members of active duty, retired, or deceased Coast Guard members.
Coast Guard Achievement Scholarship
One-time $2,000 award for high school seniors, cadets at the Coast Guard Academy, or enrolled undergraduate Coast Guard family members based on academic merit, activities, and goals.
Edward S. Hains Scholarship
For undergraduate Coast Guard dependents studying engineering, this renewable $5,000 award supports those exhibiting academic promise and leadership in the fields of engineering, science, or technology.
CGMA applications are available in early 2022 with deadlines in April/May. Along with the form, FAFSA, transcripts, and letters of recommendation are required. Their site has full details.
Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation Scholarships
As the Marine Corps’ largest private scholarship provider, the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (MCSF) offers a wide array of excellent opportunities:
MCSF National Scholarships
For children of active, reserve, or deceased Marine/Navy Corpsmen. Awards up to full tuition at any accredited 4-year college plus a $3,000 book allowance. Highly competitive and merit/need-based.
Military Outreach Scholarships
For those who don’t qualify for National Awards due to parent’s service status. Still sizeable awards up to $15,000 per year for 4 years.
Community College Scholarships
For Marine dependents attending 2-year schools, provides up to $4,000 per academic year for associate’s degree programs.
STAR Scholarship Program
For JROTC graduates going on to serve in military/public safety careers, this renewable award provides up to full tuition.
MCSF accepts applications starting in October, with deadlines usually in mid-February. A detailed application and support materials like ACT/SAT are mandatory to be competitive.
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Scholarships
For over 100 years, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) has supported the education goals of Navy and Marine families through needs-based scholarships:
Fleet Reserve Club Scholarships
Available to children/spouses actively serving or having retired from the Navy/Marines. Awards up to $5,000 per year for 4 years of study.
General Fred K. Futernick Memorial Scholarship
For children of active duty enlisted Navy/Marines pursuing an associate or undergraduate degree. One-time $2,000 award based on merit and need.
Navy League Foundation Scholarships
Joint program providing substantial support for children/spouses of active/retired Navy personnel studying engineering, science, healthcare, or other vocational programs.
NMCRS scholarships are open for applications from January through mid-March each year. A complete application, basic requirements, and financial documentation are assessed for eligibility. Their website has full requirements.
Five FAQs about Military Scholarships:
1. When should I start the application process?
Most associations begin accepting applications in January/February for the following academic year. You should gather required documents like transcripts ASAP after the new year and submit everything well before the mid-March to mid-April deadlines to be considered on time. Starting early increases the chances of a complete submission.
2. Can I apply for multiple scholarships?
Yes, you are encouraged to apply for any scholarship you believe you qualify for based on your connection to the military and intended major/career goals. Just be sure each application is thoroughly customized to the specific award criteria. Applying to more than one program increases the chances of receiving support.
3. What if I don’t receive an award my first time applying?
Don’t be discouraged – many worthy applicants are not selected each year due to high demand and limited funds. You can reapply for the same scholarships in subsequent years. Be sure to update your application with new achievements, activities, and any changes in financial need. Perseverance increases the chances of future selection.
4. How are scholarship recipients selected?
Each association establishes independent selection committees made up of volunteer members and education experts to review applications objectively. Criteria like GPA, SAT/ACT scores, essay responses, letters of recommendation, civic involvement, and financial documentation are carefully assessed based on the specific award qualifications. Merit and need are balanced.
5. What should I do if I am awarded a scholarship?
Be sure to follow the notification guidelines to formally accept the award. Most require sending a signed letter or online form by a deadline, usually mid-summer. Maintain regular contact with the association and promptly send any updates on your education, like a change in major or school. Meeting award requirements like submitting transcripts ensure future disbursements if it is a renewable multi-year scholarship. Expressing gratitude helps the association continue its mission.