Iowa Veteran’s Benefits

Updated: December 24, 2022
In this Article

    Discover Iowa state and local veteran’s benefits including education, employment, healthcare, tax breaks/exemptions, recreation, and much more below. There are more than 225,000 veterans living in the Hawkeye state, according to the VA.

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    Iowa State Veteran Education Benefits

    Iowa State Resident Tuition Benefit for Military Members, Spouses, and Dependent Children

    The State of Iowa automatically applies in-state tuition rates to currently serving active duty military members, spouses, and dependent children. Specific documentation requirements apply including the following items:

    • Current military members must provide a copy of PCS orders and/or military ID card
    • Dependents should furnish a military ID card or the military parent’s current orders, along with the military parent’s tax return naming the student as a dependent
    • Spouses should provide a military spouse ID card or current PCS orders and marriage certificate

    Domestic partners are also eligible. They must supply the same documentation as spouses and a certification of domestic partnership.

    Members of the Guard and Reserve may also qualify for this in-state tuition benefit as long as the following conditions are met:

    • Must be assigned to an Iowa unit
    • Must have either completed basic training or who have served at least one year of their commitment
    • Non-resident students will remain classified as non-resident while being assessed in-state tuition and fees

    In this case, only the military member is eligible for in-state tuition. Required documentation for Iowa Guard or Reserve members includes:

    • Paperwork showing completion of basic training or 12 months of service and attachment to an Iowa unit to the Office of the Registrar
    • Enlistment/Reenlistment Document
    • Current military orders

    Full-time members of the Iowa Guard or Reserve plus their dependents and spouses are also eligible for in-state tuition benefits. Documentation requirements are similar to those listed above for active duty, Guard/Reserve, etc.

    Branstad/Reynolds Scholarship Fund

    Qualifying children of military members who died on active duty after Sept. 11, 2001 may be eligible for the Branstad-Reynolds Scholarship fund. The cause of death does not have to be combat-related. The scholarship is intended to subsidize “tuition, books, fees, housing, special tools and equipment required” for school.

    This program is administered by the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs. The application deadline is Dec. 31 of each year. Applicants are expected to supply estimated education costs that will be offset by the scholarship.

    Iowa War Orphan Tuition Assistance

    Qualifying dependent children up to the age of 26 of Iowa veterans killed in action after Sept. 11, 2001 may be eligible for Iowa War Orphan Tuition Assistance for coursework at an Iowa college. This assistance is available up to $600 each year and the benefit is capped at $3,000. Proof of residency is required. The dependents of Guard and Reserve members may also qualify.

    There are certain stipulations to receive this benefit, which include the following requirements:

    • The qualifying dependent student must have a high school diploma or equivalent.
    • The applicant must have lived in the State of Iowa for at least two years “immediately preceding the filing of an application.”
    • The applicant must plan to attend an approved school within the State of Iowa.

    Iowa National Guard Tuition Assistance

    Iowa National Guard members who are currently serving may be eligible for up to $2,700 per semester for full-time coursework. There is a smaller tuition assistance amount for part-time students. Those who are mobilized during the school year may be eligible for a tuition refund under this program.

    Operation Recognition High School

    Veterans of World War One, World War Two, Korea, and Vietnam may qualify for high school diplomas if they were unable to complete their studies due to joining the military. This program is for honorably discharged veterans. The diplomas may be awarded posthumously. The Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs is responsible for determining eligibility for this program.

    Iowa State Veteran Employment Benefits

    Iowa State Hiring Preference for Veterans

    Hiring preference for state jobs can include a hiring preference for veterans including Guard and Reserve members with 20 years of service after Jan. 28, 1973. Purple Heart recipients, disabled veterans, and those receiving pension payments via the VA are also eligible. Proof of service must be submitted via documentation such as discharge paperwork, VA award letters, etc.

    It is important to note that hiring preference for veterans under Iowa state law is not equal to the federal requirements for similar hiring practices. Check with the Iowa Department of Administrative services if you have questions on these differences.

    Home Base Iowa Program for Veterans

    Home Base Iowa is a public/private program intended to match veterans and those transitioning from military careers to Iowa based job resources and partner agencies.

    It is intended to bring together “Iowa businesses with qualified veterans looking for career opportunities.” The Home Base Iowa official site allows veterans to post resumes, apply to have a small business recognized as a Home Base Iowa business, and offers employers a service to recommend veterans for employment. Posting a resume requires creating an account and login for the Home Base Iowa site.

    Iowa State Commercial Driver’s License Waiver for Qualifying Veterans

    Qualifying service members and veterans with “recent experience” driving large trucks in the military may be eligible to obtain an Iowa state commercial driver’s license without being required to participate in the driving skills test.

    To qualify for the test exemption, the service member must have “legally operated the same type of commercial motor vehicle” they plan to operate with the CDL for a minimum of two years prior to applying for the Iowa State commercial driver’s license.

    Iowa State Veteran Housing Benefits

    IFA FirstHome Mortgage Program

    IFA FirstHome Mortgage Program is a first-time home buyer program open to veterans (who don’t have to be first-time buyers) featuring lower interest rates (which are not affected by credit score–an important feature) and lower fees, according to the official site.

    For qualified borrowers, there is a 3% down payment requirement–note that this is half a percentage point lower than the going minimum required investment for borrowers who choose the FHA home loan program.

    IFA Home For Iowans Mortgage Program

    The Home For Iowans program is very similar to the FirstHome program–all requirements are similar including similar (actual dollar amounts may vary) income caps, purchase price caps, and other rules. The biggest difference between the Home For Iowans program versus FirstHome? The Home For Iowans program is for both first-time home buyers AND repeat borrowers.

    Military Homeownership Assistance Program

    This IFA program is designed to help qualifying military members to offset down payment and/or closing costs with a $5,000 grant.

    Iowa State Veterans Home in Marshalltown, Iowa

    The Iowa Veterans Home was built in 1887 and offers long-term care to qualifying military members with honorable discharges. Dependents and surviving spouses may also qualify for care if they meet admission requirements.

    All applicants must be eligible for admission to a VA Medical Center and be Iowa residents. Spouses and surviving spouses of qualified veterans “are eligible for admission if they have been married to the veteran for one year before the date of application and meet the residency requirements of Iowa,” according to the official site. The County Commissioners of Veterans Affairs (with an office in each Iowa County) is the admissions referral agency.

    This facility features an infirmary, nursing home-style care with nearly 700 beds and “domiciliary care.” Services may include:

    • Medical
    • Optometry
    • Podiatry
    • Dermatology
    • Respiratory therapy
    • Laboratory/x-ray
    • Pharmacy
    • Dental
    • Nursing
    • Psychology
    • Physical and occupational therapy
    • Audiology

    Admitted residents and patients will pay a need-based fee determined by income and assets.

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    Iowa Veteran Financial Benefits

    Iowa Veterans Trust Fund

    The State of Iowa maintains a multi-million trust dollar to help qualifying veterans and their families. These funds have been used to offset the financial challenges of veteran unemployment or underemployment. They help vets and qualifying family members receive vision care, hearing, dental services, durable medical equipment, and prescription drugs.

    Approved expenses that may be covered under this trust fund benefit are vehicle repairs, housing repair, transitional housing in an emergency, and counseling and substance abuse services. These payments are need-based. The veteran’s cash-on-hand assets cannot exceed $15,000.

    The Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs lists certain benefits with their cash payment amounts including:

    • Unemployment Assistance – the recipient must have a service connected issue causing their unemployment. $3,000.00 in a twelve month period, with a lifetime maximum of $6,000.00
    • Job Training or Education Assistance – Lifetime maximum of $3,000.00
    • Individual or Family Counseling – Up to $5,000.00 in a twelve month period
    • Dental – Up to $2,500.00 in a twelve month period
    • Audiology – Up to $1,500.00 per ear in a twelve month period
    • Emergency Housing Repairs – Up to $3,000.00 in a twelve month period
    • Emergency Vehicle Repairs – Up to $2,500.00 in a twelve month period
    • Emergency Room – Lifetime maximum of $5,000.00
    • Durable Medical Equipment – Lifetime maximum of $2,500.00

    Iowa Finance Authority Military Homeowner Grant

    A $5,000 grant is available to qualifying service members with active duty service on or after Sept. 11, 2001 (and certain surviving spouses) who purchased a home after March 10, 2005. This benefit is also open to service members who served 90 days of active duty between Aug. 2, 1990 and April 6, 1991. Requirements include the following:

    • The home buyer must intend to occupy the property.
    • The buyer receives prior approval before closing on a qualified home.
    • The borrower may purchase in cash or use an Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) Participating or Facilitating Lender and IFA first mortgage.
    • The borrower uses an IFA participating lender to receive a non-IFA first mortgage if IFA deems it economically feasible and financially advantageous. “At this time, IFA will approve a grant with non-IFA financing if the lender demonstrates that such financing is a fixed rate, permanent, fully amortizing mortgage loan that is at least 25 basis points lower APR* than the most comparable IFA mortgage product available at the time the applicable Good Faith Estimate is issued” according to the IFA official site.

    These grants are available by working with a participating lender. Military discharge paperwork and four months of Leave and Earnings Statements are required as part of the application package. 

    Iowa State Injured Veterans Grant

    The State of Iowa offers currently serving military members and qualifying discharged veterans who have received “serious or very serious combat-related injuries in a combat theater of operations after 9-11-2001” a grant of up to $10,000. This is so family members can accompany the veteran during the recovery process after being injured in a combat zone or when the service member was drawing hazardous duty pay.

    The grants are paid to qualifying military members as follows:

    • $2,500 when veteran is medically evacuated from the combat zone after a combat-related injury.
    • $2,500 30 days after evacuation if the military member is still hospitalized, receiving medical treatment or rehabilitation services by the military or Veterans Administration (This stipend is not for follow-up appointments).
    • $2,500 60 days after evacuation date if still hospitalized, receiving medical treatment, etc.
    • $2,500 90 days after evacuation date if still hospitalized, receiving treatment, etc.

    There is an additional requirement that the treatment/services are not administered in the service member’s home of record.

    Iowa State Tax Breaks for Veterans

    The State of Iowa offers several tax incentives and tax breaks for veterans.

    Military Retirement Pay Tax Exemption

    Iowa state legislation passed in 2014 exempts military retirement pay and survivor benefits from Iowa state income tax.

    Property Tax Exemption for Qualifying Military Service

    Home owners with qualifying military service (wartime service or a minimum of 18 months with an honorable discharge OR fewer than 18 months with a qualifying service-related medical condition) may be eligible for a property tax exemption (generally just under $2,000 in most cases). The tax exemption may also apply to surviving spouses, dependent children, etc. if they meet the criteria for the benefit.

    Iowa State Disabled Veteran Homestead Tax Credit

    The State of Iowa offers a Homestead Tax Credit to qualifying disabled veterans with permanent and total disability ratings based on individual unemployability paid at the 100% disability rate. This is a 100% exemption for property taxes for qualifying residences used by veterans as their home.

    Additional Iowa Veteran Benefits

    Recreational Benefits for Veterans

    The State of Iowa offers veterans who are VA-rated with a disability of any rating the ability to apply for a lifetime hunting and fishing license for a seven dollar fee. The service member must be an Iowa resident who has a VA-rated disability as the result of active duty military service.

    Iowa Burial Benefits for Veterans

    The State of Iowa runs the Iowa State Veterans Cemetery, located west of Des Moines in Adel. Military members, qualifying spouses and dependent children have burial privileges with no fee for veterans. All others require an interment fee.

    Eligibility for burial is determined by military service including:

      • The service member must have a discharge not characterized as Dishonorable.
      • Service member died on active duty or served at least 20 years in the National Guard or Reserves and qualified or would have qualified for military retirement pay.
      • Reserve component personnel qualify if they otherwise served in a presidential call-up during Reserve Component military service.
      • Active duty for training of Reserve Component personnel does not qualify as active service.

    Pre-need eligibility determination is available. Applicants should download the pre-need application and submit to the address mentioned on the form.

    Written by Team