Transitioning to Civilian Life: Resources for Returning to School

Transitioning from military life to the veteran world isn’t always simple, but many veterans find taking advantage of the GI Bill®  and other educational benefits provides an ideal springboard for success. Though the transition itself can be stressful, there are resources available to help veterans make the switch from active-duty life to the classroom.

Here are some resources that can assist veterans as they navigate higher education:

Heed the Advice of Fellow Student Veterans

The Student Veterans of America organization published a Military to College Guide that can help make the transition as smooth as possible. Here are some of the tips provided:

  • Start slowly with only a few courses
  • Connect with other veterans on campus and create a network
  • Take the time to get to know professors and ask for help if needed
  • Take lots of notes, take breaks when studying and find a study partner
  • Don’t be afraid to use the school’s tutoring, counseling and academic services
  • Take measures to keep stress in check, such as getting regular exercise
  • Participate in school activities to become a part of the community

Use Department of Veterans Affairs Resources

The VA offers veterans access to free vocational and educational counseling services if they ask for assistance. Though there are certain eligibility requirements, the services offered include:

  • Career counseling to assist with decision-making
  • Educational and vocational counseling to help choose an appropriate civilian occupation and map out a training program
  • Academic and adjustment counseling to help remove barriers that stand in the way of success

The VA’s GI Bill website offers more information on the services available and eligibility requirements.

VA Medical Centers and Vet Centers

Additional support can often be found in these two locations. Vet Centers offer counseling to help with readjustment and other services at no cost to combat-zone veterans. The medical centers can provide a host of other services to ensure a healthy transition.

Use Veterans Upward Bound

This Department of Education Program helps veterans succeed in their post-secondary education. This is a great resource for those who have not been in a classroom for some time and are having trouble coping with academic responsibilities. The mission of Veterans Upward Bound is to help motivate and assist veterans in the development of academic and requisite skills necessary for classroom success.

Call on the DCoE Outreach Center

For those making the transition after suffering a traumatic brain injury, the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) also offers an Outreach Center that offers information and resources. For more information call 866-966-1020 or email

Additional Resources

There are a number of additional resources that can help veterans in making the transition. They include:

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid – The FAFSA is the standard form to get the financial aid ball rolling. For more information, visit
  • – This website offers a database of searchable scholarships based on different criteria, such as state of study, student type, sports and topic of study.
  • Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program – This program may cover the costs of schooling that go beyond the Post-9/11 GI Bill. For more information, visit its website.

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