Nebraska Veteran’s Benefits

Updated: December 24, 2022
In this Article

    Find Nebraska State and local veteran’s benefits including education, employment, healthcare, tax breaks/exemptions, recreation, and much more below. The Cornhusker State is home to over 130,000 veterans, according to the VA.

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    Nebraska State Veteran Education Benefits

    Nebraska Waiver of Tuition Program

    The State of Nebraska administers a Waiver of Tuition program for dependents of eligible veterans. This program offers a 100% waiver of a qualifying student’s tuition and “tuition-related fees” to participating University of Nebraska campuses, Nebraska state colleges, and Nebraska community colleges.

    This program is offered for “ONE degree, diploma, or certificate from a community college and ONE baccalaureate degree from the university or a state college. If the student wishes to take full advantage of the Waiver program, the degree, diploma, or certificate must be earned before the baccalaureate degree,” according to the Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs.

    Once a baccalaureate degree has been earned, the student is no longer eligible to receive Waiver. There are no extensions or exceptions to this rule.

    The program does not pay for housing, college parking fees, food, books, or materials. Qualifying criteria for applicants includes the following requirements for the veteran parent, who must:

    • Be rated permanently and totally disabled as a result of military service, or
    • Have died of a service connected disability, or
    • Have died subsequent to discharge as a result of injury or illness sustained while a member of the armed forces, or
    • Have been classified as missing in action or a prisoner of war during armed hostilities while a member of the armed forces,
    • The VA disability rating decision date, date of death, or classification “must be prior to the start of the term being applied for to be eligible for that term” according to the Nebraska VA.

    There is also eligibility criteria for the student applicant, including the following:

    • The student must be a Nebraska resident and be eligible to pay in-state tuition.
    • The dependent must be a spouse or surviving spouse, a biological or adopted child, or stepchild.

    This program must be applied for prior to the start of the school term. The applications are submitted to the Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs initially, not the school.

    Nebraska Reservist Tuition Credit Program

    Residents of Nebraska who are also enlisted Active Selected Reserve members may be eligible for a 50% tuition credit at approved colleges (see below). The program is limited to the first 200 applicants in a given school year with two years remaining on their current enlistment at the start of each school term. There are additional requirements:

    • Service member must agree to serve a minimum of three years as a Reservist
    • Should not have completed 10 years of total service in the armed forces
    • Must be working toward a degree or certificate
    • Must meet Nebraska in-state tuition requirements for residency

    Approved schools for this program include:

    • University of Nebraska (Kearney, Lincoln, Omaha, UNMC, NCTA-Curtis)
    • Chadron State College
    • Peru State College
    • Wayne State College
    • Central Community College (Columbus, Grand Island, Hastings, Holdrege)
    • Metropolitan Community College
    • MidPlains Community College (McCook, North Platte)
    • Northeast Community College
    • Southeast Community College (Beatrice, Lincoln, Milford)
    • Western Nebraska Community College (Alliance, Scottsbluff, Sidney)

    Operation Recognition: High School Diploma Program for Veterans

    The State of Nebraska offers high school diplomas to qualifying wartime veterans who could not complete high school or attend graduation as a result of military service. Qualifying dates of service include World War Two from 9/16/1940 through 12/31/1946 and the Korean War from 6/25/1950 through 1/31/1955.

    Unlike some states high school diploma programs similar to this one, the Nebraska application procedure requires the veteran or family members to submit an application and the veteran’s discharge paperwork to the Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs. This establishes eligibility for the program rather than approaching the school district.

    Nebraska State Veteran Employment Benefits

    Nebraska State Job Preference for Qualifying Veterans And Spouses

    State job hiring preference is extended to qualifying veterans and their spouses. This preference is open to retired/separated service members, spouses of 100% disabled vets, and spouses of those still serving or who have left the service in the past 180 days leading up to the application/testing for a state job.

    Applicants must submit military discharge paperwork such as the DD Form 214, plus VA documentation of any service-connected disability. Proof of legal marriage must be submitted with spouse applications. Spouses of a veteran currently on active duty may claim preference “during the time of active duty and up to 180 days after their separation from service” according to the Nebraska VA.

    Hiring preference begins at five extra percentage points added to passing scores on all parts of a job exam, with an additional five percent added for qualifying disabled veterans.

    Nebraska State Veteran Housing Benefits

    MIFA Military Home Program

    The Military Home Program is offered to qualifying military members “actively employed by any branch of the service” and to qualified veterans who do not have a dishonorable discharge.

    NIFA First Home Targeted Program

    NIFA First Home is an option for those who don’t qualify for the above Military Home Program AND who do not need down payment and closing cost assistance. Buyers using this program must meet NIFA’s first-time homebuyer requirements, and these loan options include FHA and USDA loans.

    The First Home Targeted Program is for buyers who purchase a home located in a target area and do not need down payment and closing cost assistance.

    NIFA Homebuyer Assistance Program

    The Homebuyer Assistance (HBA) Program offers down payment help to qualifying borrowers to help those who want to buy a home but do not have enough money saved for downpayment and/or closing costs.

    Nebraska State Veterans’ Homes

    The State of Nebraska operates four veterans homes in Bellevue, Norfolk, Grand Island, and Scottsbluff. Depending on location, services may include domiciliary care, intermediate and skilled nursing care. These homes are for those who have served on Active Duty, plus surviving spouses, and Gold Star parents.

    Applications for admission are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Nebraska Veterans’ Homes Board. You may submit an application to each home directly or apply via a Veterans Service Organization including any one of the following:

    • American Legion
    • AMVETS
    • Disabled American Veterans
    • Marine Corps League
    • Military Order of the Purple Heart
    • Paralyzed Veterans of America
    • Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States
    • Vietnam Veterans of America

    Waiting lists may apply, it’s best to explore options as early as possible.

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    Nebraska State Veteran Financial Benefits

    Nebraska Veterans’ Aid Fund

    Nebraska administers a “temporary emergency aid fund” to help veterans, spouses, and dependents in times of emergency. This fund helps “their normal method of living and when other resources are not immediately available” according to the Nebraska VA official site.

    This assistance can be used for food, shelter, clothing, medical needs, and funeral expenses. Applications for this assistance must be accomplished via the County Service Officer or Post Service Officer “of any recognized veterans’ organization in the county nearest the applicant’s place of residence and submitted to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.”

    Military Retirement Pay State Tax Breaks for Qualifying Veterans

    Under a Nebraska state program which began in 2015, qualifying military members who retire after July 18, 2014 may make a one-time choice (within two years after the date of their retirement) to exclude a portion of their retirement income from state taxation. The two choices are as follows:

    • Exclude 40% of all military retirement income for seven consecutive state tax years beginning with the year in which the election is made. All retirement income after the 40% election is treated as fully taxable income.
    • Exclude 15% of all military retirement income for all taxable years beginning with the year in which they turn 67. All retirement income before the 15% election is treated as fully taxable income.

    Once the choice is made, it cannot be changed. This process is in no way automatic. If a choice is not made within the two years after retirement time frame, the benefit is lost.

    Those who retire from military service before July 1, 2012 or who fail to make the election within two years of his/her retirement date are NOT eligible for the exclusion. Guard and Reserve members may also be eligible but even if retirement benefits do not begin within two years of the retirement date, a choice must still be made within that deadline (see above). See the Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs official site for more information.

    **Note that beginning in 2022, for all veterans, 50% of military retirement pay will be exempt from Nebraska income tax. There will be no filing requirement to “elect” this treatment. This change is due to LB 153, Legislation for Tax Relief on Military Retirement Pay signed by Gov. Ricketts in August of 2020.

    State of Nebraska Homestead Exemption

    Totally disabled veterans (with any discharge other than Dishonorable) and unremarried surviving spouses may be eligible for a Homestead Exemption for property taxes in the state of Nebraska. These exemptions generally apply to primary residences the veteran and/or spouse use as their home address.

    The amount and qualifications for this exemption may be modified depending on the tax year. Tax laws are subject to change and there are income limits on a sliding scale which may also change depending on current year’s tax laws. Contact a county tax assessor’s office to determine what may be applicable within the current tax year.

    Additional Nebraska State Veteran Benefits

    Recreational Benefits for Veterans

    Veterans who are Nebraska residents with VA-rated disabilities at 50% or greater may qualify for a fee-free lifetime hunting or fishing permit. This benefit is also open to those who get a pension from the Veterans Administration “as a result of a total permanent disability not incurred in the line of duty in the Military Service.”

    Nebraska residents deployed out of the state with a branch of the United States military within the last 12 months may be eligible for a greatly reduced one-time Annual Small Game Hunt/Fish/Fur Harvest Permit including all state stamps. A copy of deployment orders is required at application time.

    There is also an option for a reduced veteran’s Hunting/Fishing Permit (for a fee of $5) if the applicant is a veteran 64 years of age or older who served on active duty beyond basic training.

    Burial Benefits for Veterans

    The State of Nebraska operates a veterans’ cemetery in Alliance, NE. Admission requirements for veterans and qualifying spouses are the same as the requirements for interment in a VA National Cemetery, and pre-need eligibility determination is highly encouraged.

    Caskets and cremation options are available. Plus pre-interment planning, headstones, perpetual care of the site, and reinterment services are also an option where applicable. Call (308) 763-2958 to learn more about pre-need eligibility.

    Written by Team