Grants for VeteransUpdated: December 23, 2022
If you seek grants for veterans, there are a lot of choices; you’ll have your pick of education grants, housing grants for veterans, even grants for veteran-affiliated non-profit organizations. Where you start looking likely depends on what you need from the grant and some needs may be easier to meet than others depending on demand, the nature of the grant you’re competing for, and more.
What follows is not a comprehensive list of veteran grant opportunities. Instead, this collection of grants for veterans is meant as a way to help get started exploring these and related resources that will inevitably cross your path while researching the types of grants offered to vets.
Veteran Housing Grants
Two of the most important grants for disabled veterans with qualifying medical conditions come from the Department of Veterans Affairs; the Specially Adapted Housing Grant and the Special Home Adaptation Grant.
These two programs are designed to help veterans who have medical issues that meet VA criteria for the grant to get funds to adapt a home to be more accessible for the disabled veteran.
Other housing grants may come from your state government–especially from your state’s Housing Finance Authority or Office of Veterans Affairs. Housing Finance Authority programs often feature first-time home buyer incentives and there may be local down payment assistance grant programs in your area that you should know about.
Check your state government official site or Google your state’s name with the key phrase “housing grants for veterans.”
A search for private housing grants for veterans disappoints many; this is one area where private resources don’t seem to be as plentiful as with education grants and general financial assistance.
One area that is not technically a housing grant solution but can be used for housing expenses? The assistance offered on an emergency basis from VSOs like the Red Cross, and from military relief societies such as the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Air Force Aid Society, etc. Each of these programs has featured emergency financial relief for qualifying military members that can be used toward housing expenses in many cases.
Veteran Education Grants
There are many agencies offering financial help to veterans who want to complete higher education, get credentialed or certified, etc. Who provides such grants?
- The federal government
- Private veteran-focused groups
- State and local governments
- Foundations and scholarship funds
One of the best examples of government grants for education is the Pell Grant, but those who are currently serving may not qualify if they earn too much taxable income. A notable exception to this may apply to those who have been deployed recently–your taxable income in a war zone is lower due to combat zone tax exclusions (where applicable).
There are education grants offered by state governments–the Illinois Veterans Grant is one such program–veterans apply after filling out FAFSA forms and may qualify to have all tuition paid for college programs at approved institutions.
Another such grant program is administered by the Texas Veterans Commission (TVC). It provides education grants under the Hazelwood Act, described as a State of Texas benefit “that provides qualified Veterans, spouses, and dependent children with an education benefit of up to 150 hours of tuition exemption, including most fee charges, at public institutions of higher education in Texas.”
You will also find veteran education help via Veteran Service Organizations such as the following–some of these may offer both grants and scholarships, and some scholarship programs listed below may function more like grants depending on the program, circumstances, and other variables:
- DAV Jesse Brown Scholarship
- Fleet Reserve Association Scholarship
- Folds of Honor Foundation
- Green Beret Foundation Heroes’ Legacy
- Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) Program
- MOAA – Military Officers Association of America – Scholarships/Grants/Loans
- National Military Family Association
- Navy League
Veteran Grants For Business Needs
Some financial need is personal, some is organizational–there are grants for both, and veteran entrepreneurs should definitely explore their options for grants aimed at veteran owned businesses and non-profits alike.
One private organization called the Veterans Support Foundation (VSF) provides grants “supporting veteran related projects” including matching fund projects for “scientific, charitable, and educational purposes.”
Other grants may not be specifically aimed at veterans but can be used by them to get funding for qualifying activities. One such program has been offered by the U.S. Department of Energy is the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant.
It’s part of a federal program that encourages small business research. How can a veteran or vet-owned business qualify for a program like this? Present a program focused on the required area (in this specific case the program requires an emphasis on scientific research that meets SBIR goals) and be able to prove your project has commercial potential.
SBIR grants are capped at one million dollars, which gives a good idea as to the scale and scope of this particular fund.
When looking for resources to get grants for a veteran-owned business, you will encounter a lot of lists that include business loans and other non-grant programs. Some vet-centric business grants can be hard to come by outside the usual channels (VA, SBA, state or local agencies) but you may find that some grant criteria is veteran-friendly if nothing else.
Veteran Grants For Personal Financial Hardship
For individual financial needs, there are many resources–the first place to check is with state and local agencies to get the usual types of assistance with food and shelter, but there are also avenues of relief for specific expenses–for example, the Department of Veterans Affairs provides need-based debt relief for VA copays and related expenses.
That may not be a grant per se but the financial relief can help in addition to grant programs. You may be able to request grant applications (or related financial relief) from the military aid societies listed above including Air Force Aid Society, Army Emergency Relief, etc.
Financial relief grants may also include options from VSOs such as the VFW and its Unmet Needs Program, defined as a financial aid grant (up to $1,500 at press time though amounts are always subject to change) for military families “who have run into unexpected financial difficulties as a result of deployment or other military-related activity or injury.”
The VFW grants under Unmet Needs are intended for basic life expenses and are paid to the family’s creditors directly. Programs like these often have specific rules about who qualifies and why.
The VFW criteria for Unmet Needs may be similar to some, but not all veteran grant assistance for financial crises–never assume you do not qualify unless you have been told otherwise. Qualifying criteria for Umnet Needs include meeting one or more of the following:
- Financial hardship is the result of a current deployment OR military pay error, or from being discharged for medical reasons
- Must have been discharged on or after Sept. 11, 2001
- Must have financial hardship that is a direct result of military service-connected injuries and/or illnesses
- The financial hardship cannot be caused by civil, legal or domestic problems, etc
- The applicant must provide the most current bills due
What To Remember About Veteran Grants
Grants are NOT loans—there should be no expectation of repayment for your grant, though in some cases you may experience grant application requirements that do demand repayment in cases where the grant conditions are not successfully met. That is a very important distinction to remember; don’t make the mistake of assuming no grant funds are ever subject to a repayment demand in this regard—that is a costly mistake to avoid.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News