Illinois Veteran’s Benefits

Updated: December 24, 2022
In this Article

    Find Illinois state and local veteran’s benefits including education, employment, healthcare, tax breaks/exemptions, recreation and much more below. These benefits are in addition to the benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Illinois state has 650,000 veterans.

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    Illinois Veteran Education Benefits

    Illinois Veterans’ Grant

    The Illinois Veterans’ Grant (IVG) program pays (up to 120 academic “units) for qualified veterans’ tuition and mandatory fees at all Illinois state colleges, universities and community colleges. Requirements to qualify include, but may not be limited to, the following:

    • Honorable discharge
    • Illinois resident six months prior to entering military service
    • One full year of active duty service or active overseas duty in a time of hostilities in that country regardless of length of service
    • Return to Illinois within six months of an Honorable discharge

    Illinois National Guard Grant

    Available to any qualifying enlisted National Guard member having served at least one year of service. Early-career officers (Lieutenants and Captains) may also qualify. This grant provides the student with eight semesters or 12 quarters of full-time/part-time undergrad coursework at any state-supported college.

    Children of Veterans Tuition Waiver

    The State of Illinois offers one honorary scholarship per Illinois county per year, to be used at the University of Illinois. This Illinois state veteran education benefit is for children of Veterans of WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam War periods, the Gulf War and the “War on Terror”. This grant also features a preference to the dependent children of deceased or disabled vets.

    Illinois State Bright Start Fallen Heroes Scholarship

    The State Of Illinois offers $2,500 to be deposited in a Bright Start account, intended for the children of service members killed while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom. This scholarship is available on request by the next-of-kin of the service member.

    Illinois State Educational Aid for Children 10-18 Years Old

    This Illinois state assistance is offered via the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs to dependent children between the ages of 10 and 18 of veterans who died or became VA-rated 100% disabled as a result of military service.

    Illinois MIA/POW Scholarship

    Another education program offered by the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. This scholarship is intended for military spouses and dependent children of eligible veterans or currently serving military members. This scholarship pays for four years of full-time college enrollment at any state-supported campus.

    Illinois State Troops to Teachers

    The Illinois Troops to Teachers program is for honorably discharged veterans with a minimum of six years of service, intended to help a career change from military service to public school teaching. The program includes the following resources:

    • Academic advising
    • Career advising
    • Information resources for earning state teacher certification
    • Career assistance
    • Financial aid up to $5,000 to eligible veterans enrolled in a certification program, $10,000 bonuses for teachers agreeing to a three-year commitment in any high-needs Illinois school

    Illinois State Veteran High School Diploma Program

    Illinois, like many other states, offers high school diplomas for qualifying veterans of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. These Illinois vets are eligible for a high school diploma they had their education interrupted to serve in the Armed Forces.

    Illinois Veteran Employment Benefits

    Illinois State Employment Preference For Veterans

    The State of Illinois features a hiring preference offered to honorably discharged Veterans applying for state work with Central Management Services. This preference is also available to Guard/Reserve members who have served four years even if they were never called to active duty. This hiring preference does not have a specific Illinois residency requirement, but vets who are Illinois residents will be given first consideration before out-of-state veterans.

    Illinois State Jobs for Vets Program

    The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) offers training and job placement assistance for Illinois vets. IDES and partner agencies provide career assistance and transition help for vets trying to re-enter the private sector.

    Illinois State Reemployment Rights For National Guard Service Members

    Illinois National Guard members called to active duty have employment protections under state law. These rights may be dependent on the veteran’s actions before, during, and after active duty; the veteran must give proper notice to the employer, report to work in a timely manner once the active service has ended, and other important details. The book of rules for these rights and many veteran-specific rights is published by the Illinois Attorney General, is more than 150 pages long!

    Illinois Veteran Medical Benefits

    Illinois State Veterans Care Program

    Veterans Care offers comprehensive health care coverage for uninsured Illinois Veterans including help in a variety of ares. These include clinic visits, hospital inpatient and outpatient care, lab tests, x-rays, prescription drugs, vision care, limited dental, physical, occupational and speech therapy, mental health and substance abuse services and emergency medical transportation according to the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs official site.

    This is a need-based program and applicants must meet an income threshold to be approved. Qualified applicants are responsible for a monthly premium of under $100 for this program.

    Illinois Warrior Assistance Program

    The State of Illinois has a 24-hour, toll-free helpline (1-866-554-IWAP or 4927) operated by healthcare professionals. The Illinois Warrior Assistance Program is for veterans who are dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury symptoms. Through this program all veterans have the option to go through TBI/PTSD screening.

    Illinois Veteran Housing Benefits


    $5,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance, federal income tax reductions, and lender-paid mortgage insurance for Illinois Veterans and military families. Available to first-time buyers, repeat buyers and homeowners looking to refinance statewide.


    $7,500 in down payment and closing cost assistance and a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage with a competitive interest rate. Available to first-time homebuyers and all Veterans in 10 select counties.

    Illinois GI Home Credit Program

    Qualifying Illinois veterans and currently serving military who are also first time home buyers may be eligible for an Illinois State Mortgage Credit Certificate or MCC. This credit reduces the amount of the borrower’s federal income tax. Information on this credit is available via your local Illinois County Assessor’s office.

    Illinois State Veterans Specially Adapted Housing Tax Exemption

    This is a State of Illinois tax exemption on the “assessed value of real property for which federal funds have been used for the purchase or construction of specially adapted housing for as long as the Veteran, or the spouse, or unmarried surviving spouse resides on the property.”

    Illinois State Veterans Tax Exemption for Mobile Homes

    This state benefit offers exemption from the Mobile Home Local Services Tax Act. The benefit applies to Illinois veterans, spouses and surviving unmarried spouses and is intended for primary residences only. Your nearest County Tax Assessor office has more information on how to apply.

    Illinois Veterans’ Homes

    Qualifying Illinois vets who have “one day or more of service during any wartime period recognized by the US Department of Veterans Affairs” may apply. Use of an Illinois Veterans’ home requires that the vet must have entered military service from the State of Illinois, or have been a resident for at least a year before applying. Background checks are required. Available beds, type of care, and the availability of care for Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers may vary depending on the facility.

    There are five active locations:

    • The Veterans’ Home at Quincy
    • The Veterans’ Home at LaSalle
    • The Veterans’ Home at Anna
    • The Veterans’ Home at Manteno
    • The Prince Homeless/Disabled Veterans’ Home

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    Illinois Veteran Financial Benefits

    Illinois State Veterans Tax Credit

    The State of Illinois offers businesses that hire veterans a $1,200 tax credit.

    Illinois State Returning Veterans’ Homestead Exemption

    Qualifying vets may apply to receive a one-time $5,000 reduction to their home’s Equalized Assessed Value. This is another benefit available via the local County Assessor’s office.

    Illinois State Disabled Veterans’ Homestead Exemption

    Veterans with a qualifying, VA-rated service-connected disability of at least 50 percent, but less than 75 percent, may qualify for a $2,500 homestead tax exemption. For qualifying veterans at least 75 percent VA-rated service connected disabled may qualify for a $5,000 exemption. This benefit is available via County Assessor’s Office.

    State Of Illinois Military Service Bonuses

    The State of Illinois offers a one-time bonus for qualifying veterans who served during wartime. Qualifying criteria includes being a recipient of certain medals or awards, and the benefit must be applied for by veterans or surviving family members at the nearest “service office” of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.

    Bonus Application & Armed Forces Certificate
    To apply for any of the bonuses listed here must submit paperwork including:

    • Bonus Application
    • Armed Forces Certificate

    World War II Bonus Payment: $10 per month for domestic service, $15 per month for foreign service for residents of Illinois who were honorably discharged, and served at least 60 days on active duty between Sept. 16, 1940 and Sept. 3, 1945. Survivors are entitled to a benefit of $1,000, “if the veteran’s death was service-connected and as a result of hostile action with enemy forces” according to the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.

    Korean War Bonus Payment: $100 bonus for Illinois residents who have honorable discharges, a Korean Service Medal, and served in Korea Korea between June 27, 1950 – July 27, 1953. The residency requirement includes living in-state for 12 months immediately prior to entering service.

    Vietnam War Bonus Payment: $100 bonus for honorably discharged veterans who were residents of Illinois for 12 months immediately prior to entering service, were awarded the Vietnam Service Medal or Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for Vietnam, and received an Honorable Discharge for service during one of the following periods:

    • Vietnam: Jan. 1, 1961 – March 28, 1973
    • Vietnam Frequent Wind: April 29, 30, 1975

    Survivors may be entitled to a benefit of $1,000, if the veteran’s death was “classified as service-connected by the US Department of Veterans’ Affairs.”

    Persian Gulf War Bonus Payment: $100 bonus for honorably discharged Illinois veterans who serve between Aug. 2, 1990 – Nov. 30, 1995. Recipients of this bonus must have been Illinois residents for 12 months immediately prior to entering service, received the Southwest Asia Service Medal, and received an Honorable Discharge. Service members currently on active duty who served in the Persian Gulf may apply prior to discharge.

    Global War on Terrorism Bonus Payment: $100 bonus for honorably discharged or still-serving service members with military service on or after Sept. 11, 2001. Applicants must have been legal residents of Illinois for 12 months immediately prior to entering service.

    This bonus requires 30 consecutive or 60 nonconsecutive days of foreign or sea service and the applicant must have of the following:

    • Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
    • Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
    • Iraq Campaign Medal
    • Afghanistan Campaign Medal

    Those on active duty who served in the Global War on Terrorism may apply prior to discharge.

    POW Compensation: A $50 bonus for each month held captive. This is intended for applicants on active duty (or employed by the United States Government) on, or after, Jan. 1, 1961, “who were residents of Illinois 12 months prior to entry, and who were taken and held prisoner by hostile forces in Southeast Asia.”

    Additional Illinois Veteran Benefits

    Chicago Transit Authority Military Service Pass

    A free Chicago Transit Authority pass for active duty, members of the Reserves and National Guard, and qualifying veterans who are 10 percent or more VA-rated service-connected disabled. These passes work only on the CTA and are not available for Metra rail service. Applications are accepted in person the first Tuesday of every month at 100 W. Randolph, Suite 5-507 and on the fourth Tuesday of every month via the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.

    Illinois State Veterans’ Grave Registration

    The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Roll of Honor is a database of “all known Veterans buried in the State of Illinois” according to the Illinois State Department of Veterans Affairs. This can be helpful not only for locating the gravesite of a deceased veteran, but also for genealogical research, family histories, etc.

    Illinois State Indigent Veterans Burial Benefit

    A Veterans Assistance Commission or an “individual county of Illinois” may provide burial assistance for qualifying, honorably discharged indigent veteran. This benefit, the maximum of which is $900, is also offered to the mother, father, spouse, or surviving children (minors) who demonstrate a financial need.

    Illinois State Headstone Fees Benefit For Veterans

    When the federal government has furnished a headstone or marker for a deceased veteran, the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs can pay “up to the allowable reimbursement amount for the setting of such marker within Illinois.” At the time of this writing that maximum is $100.

    Illinois State Camping Fee Benefits

    Eligible Illinois veterans, former Prisoners of War, and immediate family (as long as they are accompanied by the veteran) pay no camping and admission fees at parks under the control of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Fishing and Hunting Fee Waivers For Disabled Veterans

    Fishing and hunting licenses are not required for disabled veterans with a VA-rated 10 percent or greater service-connected disability, and for those who receive total disability pension benefits. These licenses are offered via the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and supporting documentation such as VA disability award letters are required.

    Waived Illinois State Museum Fees for Ex-POWs

    Ex-POWs attending any museum that receives state funds pay no admission costs.

    Illinois State Disabled Veterans License Plates and Parking

    Veterans with a VA-rated 100 percent service-connected disability and who have been “declared eligible for funds for the purchase of a motor vehicle” according to the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs may qualify for a fee-free special license.

    Any vehicles that displays these special registration plates for disabled veterans are “exempt from any statute or ordinance imposing time limitations on parking in business districts or other facilities”. Supporting documentation such as a VA award letter, report of military discharge (DD Form 214) and other paperwork may be required.

    Links to Veterans Services

    Written by Team