South Dakota Veterans Benefits

Updated: December 24, 2022
In this Article

    Find South Dakota state and local veterans’ benefits including education, employment, healthcare, tax breaks/exemptions, recreation and much more below. The Mount Rushmore State is home to over 66,000 veterans. Learn more about veterans benefits available in South Dakota.

    South Dakota State Veteran Education Benefits

    Tuition Waivers for Veterans and Dependents

    Veteran Tuition Waivers: Veterans may be eligible for tuition waivers at state colleges. In order to be eligible for this benefit, applicants must meet the following conditions:

    • Not eligible for federal education programs such as the GI Bill
    • Taking undergraduate classes at a state college
    • Honorably discharged
    • Resident of South Dakota
    • Qualify for in-state tuition

    Veterans must also meet one of the following criteria:

    • Service member between Aug. 2, 1990 and end date of “qualifying service,” defined as, “The amount of time served on active duty between the beginning and ending dates of the particular period of conflict or hostilities during which the veteran earned eligibility for this program”
    • Received one of the following:
      • Armed Forces Expeditionary medal
      • United States campaign or service medal
      • Disability rated 10%, or more due to military service

    Tuition waivers are awarded for each month of “qualifying service.” Veterans may receive waivers for a minimum of one academic year, and up to a maximum of four academic years.

    Surviving Dependent Waivers: Surviving dependents of a service member who was a resident of South Dakota for 6 months or more prior to entry into military service may be eligible for tuition waivers while attending state colleges. In order to be eligible for this benefit, applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • 25 years of age or younger
    • Resident of South Dakota
    • Parent service member killed while on active duty

    Surviving dependents of a service member listed as POW or MIA may also be eligible for tuition waivers while attending state colleges. In order to be eligible for this benefit, applicants must not be eligible for federal benefits of equal or greater value.

    High School Diploma Program For Veterans

    Veterans may be eligible to receive honorary high school diplomas. Diplomas are awarded by the school district of the veteran’s choosing. In order to qualify for this benefit, applicants must have served during one of the following periods:

    • Dec. 7, 1941 to Sept. 2, 1945
    • June 25, 1950 to July 31, 1953, or
    • Feb. 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975

    Tuition Benefits for National Guard Service Members

    Tuition Reduction for Guard Members: Guard members who attend state college may qualify for a 50% tuition reduction. This includes one of the following:

    • Up to 128 credits in undergraduate programs
    • Up to 32 credits in graduate programs up to 32 credits
    • State vocational school approved by the Board of Education

    In order to qualify for this benefit, applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Resident of South Dakota
    • Member of the South Dakota Army or Air Guard each semester or vocational program the benefits are applied to
    • Completed required training
    • Attended 90% or more drills/training periods
    • Maintaining a satisfactory academic progress
    • Give timely notice to the college or vocational program the benefits will be used for

    Federal educational benefits do not disqualify applicants from this benefit.

    Tuition Waivers for Dependents, Surviving Spouses, and Surviving Dependents: Dependents of National Guard members disabled due to military service, and surviving dependents, may qualify for tuition waivers at state colleges.

    In order to qualify for this benefit, dependent applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Resident of South Dakota
    • 25 years of age or younger
    • Guard member parent who died due to military service, or
    • Guard member parent who became totally and permanently disabled due to military service

    Spouses of National Guard members disabled due to military service, and surviving spouses, may also qualify for this benefit.

    In order to qualify for this benefit, spouse applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Resident of South Dakota
    • Spouse who died due to military service, or
    • Spouse who became totally and permanently disabled due to military service

    This benefit includes tuition waivers at any state college managed by the Board of Regents, as well as any course or courses of study chosen by the spouse or dependent.

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    South Dakota State Veteran Employment Benefits

    Veterans Hiring Preference

    Veterans may be eligible for hiring preference. This preference applies to appointments, employment, and promotions throughout all levels of government, including state, counties, municipalities, and school districts. Veterans who possess at least minimum qualifications will be granted an interview. Also, veterans who are disabled due to military service are given preference over veteran who are not disabled.

    In order to be eligible for this benefit, applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Honorably discharged
    • US citizen
    • Served under “qualifying conditions”

    Qualifying conditions include:

    • Served full obligation for active duty, reserve, or National Guard, or
    • Received early discharge for one of the following:
      • Medical condition
      • Hardship
      • Reduction in force
      • At the convenience of the military

    Applicants must meet qualifications necessary for the job they are applying for, and must not be disqualified due to age, loss of a limb, or other physical impairment.

    The unremarried surviving spouse of an eligible veteran who died due to military service may receive preference comparable with the eligible veteran preference. The spouse must meet minimum qualifications of the position.

    The spouse of a disabled eligible veteran who cannot exercise the right to employment preference may receive preference comparable with the eligible veteran preference. The spouse must meet minimum qualifications.

    South Dakota State Veteran Housing Benefits

    Veterans Assisted Care Homes And Nursing Homes

    The Michael J. Fitzmaurice Veterans Home is located in Hot Springs, South Dakota. The facility contains 24 living beds and 76 skilled nursing beds. The home is open to eligible veterans, their spouses, and surviving spouses. In order for a veteran, spouse, or surviving spouse to be eligible for admission, the veteran must meet the following criteria:

    • Honorably discharged
    • Period of service qualifies for veteran benefits
    • Resident of South Dakota at least five years prior to application
    • Incapacitated due to work
    • Completed physical examination 60 days or less prior to application

    Applicants must also meet the following additional criteria:

    • Ambulatory – must be able to take care of self and living quarters
    • No addiction issues
    • No mental illness

    In order for a spouse to be admitted to the home, the spouse must be admitted with the veteran.

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    South Dakota State Veteran Financial Benefits

    Property Tax Exemption For Disabled Veterans

    Veterans who are paraplegic may qualify for exemption from property tax on their dwellings,(“dwelling” is defined as a structure or structures on real estate of up to one acre).

    In order to qualify for this benefit, dwellings must meet the following criteria:

    • Specifically designed to be wheelchair accessible for use by paraplegic
    • Owned and occupied for one full calendar year by veteran with
      • Loss of both lower extremities, or
      • Loss of use, of both lower extremities
    • Owned and occupied one full calendar year by unremarried surviving spouse

    South Dakota State Property Tax Exemption for Totally Disabled Veterans

    Veterans who are disabled may qualify for exemption from property tax for up to $100,000 of the full and true value for their dwelling.

    In order to qualify for this benefit, dwellings must meet the following criteria:

    • Owned and occupied for one full calendar year
    • The veteran must be rated totally and permanently disabled due to military service
    • Owned and occupied one full calendar year by unremarried surviving spouse of veteran rated totally and permanently disabled due to military service

    Bonuses for Veterans

    Veterans may receive paid bonuses for military service during specific periods of conflict. Active duty training does not qualify for this benefit.

    In order to qualify for this benefit, applicants must be residents of South Dakota six months or more prior to service. Applicants must have also served during one of the following periods:

    • Aug. 2, 1990 to March 3, 1991 (all active service qualifies)
    • March 4, 1991 to Dec. 31, 1992 (both service in hostile area and eligibility for Southwest Asia Service Medal qualifies)
    • Jan. 1, 1993 to Sept. 10, 2001 (both service in hostile area and eligibility for any United States campaign or combat service medal qualifies)
    • Sept. 11, 2001 to date TBD (all active service qualifies)

    Veterans may also qualify for $500 bonuses for service during the following periods:

    • Desert Storm: Aug. 2, 1990, to Dec. 31, 1992
    • Service beginning on or after Jan. 1, 1993

    Additional South Dakota State Veteran Benefits

    Veteran License Plates

    Veterans may qualify for plates with specific designations.  A $10.00 fee is charged annually for each of these plates, along with a $5.00 mailing fee. However, no annual registration fees are charged.

    Disabled Veteran Plates: In order to qualify for this benefit, applicants must meet be a resident of South Dakota with an Injury or disability due to military service during wartime or due to a military mission involving armed conflict.

    Applicants must also already receive one of the following benefits:

    • K award, verified by letter from the VA
    • Benefits for total disability due to military service
    • Vehicle through Public Law 187
    • Benefits for loss of one or more extremities
    • Benefits for loss of use of one or more extremities

    Pearl Harbor Survivor: In order to qualify for this benefit, applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Resident of South Dakota
    • Survivor of attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941
    • Honorable discharge

    Upon the death of the applicant, these plates must be surrendered to the county treasurer’s office. However, no additional fees will be charged for the registration year.

    POW Plates: In order to qualify for this benefit, applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Resident of South Dakota
    • POW during military service

    Upon the death of the applicant, these plates must be surrendered to the county treasurer’s office.

    Fee-Free Veterans Records

    When certified copies of legal documents are required for claims against any state or federal agency, counties may not charge fees for these documents. Documents include:

    • Birth certificates
    • Death certificates
    • Marriage certificates
    • Adoption records
    • Divorce decrees
    • Guardianship records
    • Conservatorship paperwork

    In order to qualify for this benefit, claims must be made by, or on behalf of:

    • Service members
    • Veterans
    • Spouses
    • Surviving spouses
    • Dependents
    • Surviving dependents

    Recreational Benefits For Veterans

    Disabled Veterans and POW Reduced Fee Hunting and Fishing License: Veterans may qualify for hunting and fishing licenses at a reduced fee rate. This license replaces resident small game license and resident fishing licenses, and is valid for four years.

    In order to qualify for this benefit, applicants must be residents of South Dakota. Applicants must also meet one of the following criteria:

    • Receipt of K award, verified by letter from the VA
    • 40% or greater disability due to military service, verified by letter from the VA
    • Receipt of Social Security benefits for disability due to military service, verified by letter from the Social Security Administration
    • POW status, verified by discharge paperwork

    The application and verification papers must be submitted with a $10.00 processing fee. Once approved, applicants receive a Reduced Fee Hunting & Fishing License.

    Disabled Vet and POW Lifetime State Park Entrance License: Veterans may be eligible for lifetime state park entrance licenses.These licenses provide the following benefits:

    • 50% discount on any camping fee
    • 50% discount on associated electrical service fee for site or cabin
    • Exemption from $2.00 reservation call center fee

    In order to qualify for this benefit, applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Resident of South Dakota
    • Receipt of K award, verified by letter from the VA
    • 100% disability due to military service, verified by letter from the VA
    • POW status, verified by discharge paperwork

    State park lodges are excluded from this benefit.

    Burial Benefits For Veterans

    Burial Allowance for Veterans, Spouses, or Surviving Spouses: Veterans, their spouses, or their surviving spouses, who lack the ability to pay for funeral and burial services, may qualify for a burial allowance of up to $100 to help defray these expenses.

    In order for applicants to qualify for this benefit, the veteran must meet one of the following criteria:

    • Honorably discharged
    • US citizen
    • Resident of South Dakota one year prior to military service, or
    • Resident of South Dakota one year prior to death

    Proof of financial hardship must be submitted through an affidavit to the Veterans Service Officer, and application must be made to the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs in Pierre within one year of burial date.

    Headstone Setting Fee Payment: Veterans may qualify for a payment of $100 towards the cost of setting a government marker or headstone.

    In order to qualify for this benefit, applicants must meet one of the following criteria:

    • Resident of South Dakota one year prior to military service, or
    • Resident of South Dakota one year prior to death

    Application must be made to the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs in Pierre within one year from the date of setting of the marker or headstone.

    Written by Veteran.com Team