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Illinois Veterans Benefits

Illinois Veterans Benefits

If you are a veteran or a family member of a veteran living in the State of Illinois, you might be wondering what Illinois veterans benefits are available to you. Low Income Relief has the scoop on the most helpful veterans benefits for Illinois residents, so read on for more information!

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National Guard Grant

One of the best Illinois veterans benefits available is the National Guard Grant. The National Guard Grant helps current and former National Guard members pay for higher education costs, including graduate school, at two and four year public colleges in the State of Illinois. Funds from the National Guard Grant can be used to pay for registration, graduation, general activity, matriculation and term fees. For National Guard members who served fewer than 10 years, four years of academic study will be covered. For those who served more than 10 years, six years would be covered. 

To be eligible for the National Guard Grant, you must be currently serving in the National Guard and have completed at least one year of service. Exemptions can be made to the requirement that applicants are currently serving if they meet other requirements as outlined on the official website dedicated to outlining military service benefits for the state of Illinois. Further, applicants to this program must be enrolled in a two or four year Illinois State institution of higher education, and must not be in default on any student loans. 

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To apply for the National Guard Grant, visit the Illinois Student Assistance Commission website

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Illinois Veterans Grant

Similar to the National Guard Grant, the Illinois Veterans Grant is an Illinois veterans benefit that helps those who have served in the U.S. military pay for costs associated with higher education at Illinois state-supported colleges, universities, and community colleges. 

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There are several requirements for applicants who are interested in this Illinois veterans benefit. Applicants must have received an honorable discharge, served at least one year of active duty, or served in a foreign country during a “time of hostilities in that country”, and returned to Illinois within six months of discharge. 

To apply for the Illinois Veterans’ Grant, visit the Illinois Student Assistance Commission website.

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Veteran Driver’s Licenses and License Plates

Two of the most popular Illinois veterans benefits include veteran driver’s licenses and license plates. Please note that these benefits require an honorable discharge from the military. 

Having a “veteran” designation on your driver’s license can serve as proof of a veteran’s eligibility for services. 

There is a two step process to have the “veteran” designation added to a driver’s license. First, veterans must have their DD214 or Certification of Military Service stamped by their local Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs office. Then, they can bring those documents to any Illinois Secretary of State facility.

To receive one of Illinois’ 40 different license plates honoring the military service of veterans, Illinois residents can apply at the Illinois Secretary of State office in Springfield. Each type of license plate has specific eligibility requirements, which can be reviewed here

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Parks & Recreation Illinois Veterans Benefits

Illinois veterans benefits also include some special deals and privileges when it comes to hunting, fishing, and state park admission. Here are a few of them: 

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  • Veterans who have a 10% or greater service-connected disability rating from the VA are exempt from holding hunting and fishing licenses.
  • The Illinois Department of Natural Resources offers free Combined Sportsman’s Licenses and Habitat Stamps, free firearm deer permits, and free camping at Illinois state parks for the same length of time served. Please note that these benefits must be applied for in person at the IDNR Springfield Headquarters Office. 
  • Illinois fishing licenses, hunting licenses or Sportsman’s Combination Licenses may be purchased for half price by military veterans who served abroad or were mobilized to federal active duty. Please see the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website for more information. 

These are only a few of the many Illinois veterans benefits that are available. For more information and other benefits you may be eligible for, visit the MyArmyBenefits website.

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Catherine Hall, LMSW is a therapist at a small group practice in New York City. She earned her master of social work degree at New York University.