If you're looking for scholarships for military veterans to finance a college degree, the first thing you should do is apply for benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' GI Bill and Post-9/11 GI Bill®, which is the leading financial aid option if you have been honorably discharged within the past 10 years.

In addition to the GI Bill and Post-9/11 Bill, you can also search for scholarships for military veterans for additional opportunities. The key to finding them is spending time networking, conducting online searches and completing applications.

Begin by taking a targeted approach and identifying specific scholarship criteria that match your qualifications. There are countless scholarship search engines on the web and the best ones are free – from the U.S. Department of Labor to Fastweb.

Keep in mind that you should never pay anyone to help you find money for college, including scholarships – or to fill out your FAFSA.

Also remember to check with your college or university about scholarships and grants. Saint Leo students can visit the Saint Leo Scholarship page to review several privately funded scholarship opportunities, which include scholarships for veteran and active-duty students. (Saint Leo also offers one-time grants through an emergency fund for temporary financial assistance through the Office of Veteran Student Services.)

Here are five examples of scholarships for military veterans offered by some private organizations:


Top Scholarships for Military Veterans

  • Wells Fargo Veterans Scholarship Program
  • Pat Tillman Foundation Scholars Program
  • Afghanistan and Iraq War Veterans Scholarship
  • VFW's Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship
  • AMVET National Scholarship Program

1. Wells Fargo Veterans Scholarship Program

Wells Fargo recently announced a new scholarship program for American veterans. Renewable awards for up to $10,000 per year will be granted, determined by financial need, academic performance, work experience, leadership, community service, and challenges to completing a post-secondary program.

Deadline: Feb. 29, 2016

Amount: Up to $10,000

Website: https://scholarshipamerica.org/

In addition, Wells Fargo offers a veterans emergency grant program that makes grants available for a one-time distribution up to $1,000 to meet household expenses such as rent, utilities, daycare and medical bills. These one-time grants are for eligible veterans who are enrolled in a post-secondary education.

Website: https://www.wellsfargo.com/military/veterans


2. Pat Tillman Foundation Scholars Program

Deadline: March 1, 2106

Amount: Varies, in 2015 average scholarship amount was $15,000 per academic year.

Website: https://pattillmanfoundation.org/apply-to-be-a-scholar/

The Pat Tillman Foundation provides up to 60 scholarships a year to veteran and active-duty military service members or spouses pursuing a degree online or on-ground as a full-time student at the bachelor's or graduate levels at a U.S.-based accredited post-secondary institution. Scholars are selected based on personal achievement, academic and career ambition service and leadership potential.


3. Afghanistan and Iraq War Veterans Scholarship (2003-Present)

Deadline: April 15, 2016

Amount: $2,500

Website: https://www.afcea.org/site/foundation/scholarships

Sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA), these scholarships are offered to active-duty and honorably discharged U.S. military veterans and reservists and National Guard personnel of the Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan or Iraqi Freedom Operations. Applicants must be a sophomore or junior with a 3.0 GPA majoring in computer information systems, cybersecurity, computer science, mathematics or a field related to the AFCEA mission. Candidates must be enrolled in a two-year or four-year accredited university in the U.S., or accredited distance or online affiliate of a U.S. university.


4. VFW's Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship

Deadline: April 30, 2016

Amount: Up to $5,000

Website: https://www.vfw.org/Scholarship/

Sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Sport Clips Haircuts, this scholarship is open to U.S. citizens who are retired, honorably discharged, active duty, or a member of the National Guard or Reserves. Candidates must be accepted or currently enrolled in an accredited postsecondary institution and may reapply each semester. Scholarships are for tuition and fees only and are paid directed to the accredited school.


5. AMVET National Scholarship Program

Deadline: April 30, 2016

Amount: $1,000 per academic year

Website: http://amvets.org/scholarships/

Applicants who have been honorably discharged, are attending an eligible part-time or full-time undergraduate program, graduate program, accredited degree program or online program and have exhausted government aid are eligible to apply for this scholarship. A 100-word essay addressing the theme of how this scholarship will help the recipient achieve his/her goals is required.

Are there any other scholarships for veterans you know of and would like to share?

Other posts you may be interested in reading:

The 5 Most Common Questions About Military Education Benefits

How To Afford College As An Adult

Paying For College: A Scholarship Guide For Adult Learners

The FAFSA Is Changing -- Here's What You Need To Know

Image Credit: Sean Locke Photography on Shutterstock.com

*GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at www.benefits.va.gov/​gibill.