Illinois State Veteran Benefits


We endeavor to keep this information current, but it is subject to change without notice.


The State of Illinois is generous with their educational benefits to Veterans and their dependents. They have several special programs including programs for dependent children, dependents of those declared to be POW or MIA, and for those in the National Guard.

Dependent Children

Illinois provides financial aid to educate children, 10 to 18 years of age, when the child has a veteran parent who either became totally disabled or who died due wartime military service. This financial aid package supports of elementary school, high school or vocational training at a state educational institution.

POW/MIA Dependents

uses, and Gold Star parents are also eligible. Monthly costs are based on income.

  • Eligible dependents receive full payment of tuition and certain fees at any Illinois state-supported advanced learning institution. Scholarship the equivalent of four quarters per year and four calendar years of full-time enrollment  
  • Dependents are eligible for this scholarship based on the eligibility of their Veteran who must:
      • Be declared to be a POW or MIA by the DOD or VA
      • Have died from a service-connected disability, OR
      • Is 100% permanently disabled from service-connected disabilities

There are Veteran residency requirements as well, such as the Veteran must be an Illinois resident or have been an Illinois resident within six months of entering the Armed Forces.

Special County Scholarship for Children of Veterans

Each county in the state can provide ONE scholarship to the University of Illinois every year to honor certain Veterans by funding educational benefits for his or her child.  Veterans of WWI, WWI, the Korean War, the Vietnam Conflict may be so honored, in addition to any veteran serving on or after August 2, 1990 through the expiration date of the Southwest Asia Service Medal. Counties give preference children of deceased or disabled veterans. Scholarship recipients receive free tuition four (4) consecutive years.  Further details on these county grants is available at the University of Illinois Financial Aid Office.


Illinois veteran residents may be eligible for an Illinois Veterans’ Grant (IVG) that covers tuition and certain fees at any Illinois state-supported college or university. To qualify, the Veteran must meet all eligibility criteria:

  • Be honorably discharged
  • Live in Illinois for at least six months prior to entering military service
  • Have been on active duty for a minimum of one year
  • Return to Illinois no later than six months after being discharged from the military


National Guard members may apply for The Illinois National Guard (ING) Grant which covers tuition and certain fees, such as for registration, general activity, and matriculation etc. The provision states that Guard members who have less than 10 years active Guard service may use up to 120 eligibility units and those with more than 10 years may use up to 180, at any Illinois public universities or public community colleges.


Veterans Employment Preference

Honorably discharged wartime Veterans receive a Veteran preference when applying for state jobs.

The State also has several programs that encourage companies to find, hire and train veterans. Plus, they offer a tax credit of up to $5,000 a year to employers when they hire veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

Education Requirements for Police & Firefighters

The Illinois State Police and The Illinois Conservation Police will waive their educational requirements for honorably discharged veterans who have certain campaign service medals. Likewise, Illinois will waive a firefighter or a municipal police officer’s educational demands when honorably discharged veterans from those disciplines have 24 months of active duty or 180 days in combat.

State Licenses & Credentials

Illinois can waive testing and fees for certain licenses and other credentials for Veterans with military training and experience in those disciplines. This potential waiver applies to applicants for:  EMR, EMT, CNA, and CDL.


Income Tax

The Prairie State does not tax military retirement or active duty pay.

World War II Bonus

Certain veterans who served during WWII are eligible to receive state payments of $10 per month if they served domestically and $15 per month if they served overseas. Their survivors may be entitled to a $1000 death benefit if the veteran’s death was service-connected and meet the other eligibility criteria. Eligible Veterans must:

  • Have been residents of Illinois at the time they entered the Armed forces
  • Saw at least 60 days active duty service between September 16, 1940 and September 3, 1945 
  • Have an honorable discharge

War Bonuses

Certain veterans who served during the following periods may be eligible to receive a $100 bonus from the state if they were a resident of Illinois for 12 months immediately prior to military service. 

  • June 27, 1950 – July 27, 1953 (Korea)
  • January 1, 1961 – March 28, 1973 (Vietnam)
  • April 29-30, 1975 (Vietnam Frequent Wind)
  • August 2, 1990 – November 30, 1995 (Persian Gulf)
  • September 11, 2001 onward (Global War on Terrorism)

Some periods require the Veteran have an Honorable Discharge and/or have a foreign service component. The Veteran must also be a recipient of a service medal for:

  • Korean
  • Vietnam
  • Armed Forces
  • Vietnam Era Southwest Asia
  • Global War on Terrorism
  • Iraq
  • Afghanistan

Vietnam Veteran Survivors Compensation

Although Illinois requires a separate application for this benefit, Vietnam Veteran Survivors may be eligible to receive a $1,000 payment if their qualifying veteran’s death is service-connected or directly related to his or her service-connected condition, and it occurred during the specified period. 

POW Compensation

Illinois residents, who were residents for at least 12 months prior to service as either active duty military or U.S. Government employees, may be eligible $50 for each month held in captivity if:

  • They served on, or after, January 1, 1961, AND
  • They were held prisoner by hostile forces in Southwest Asia

Specially Adapted Housing Tax Exemption

Homes that were purchased or modified with a Specially Adapted Housing Grant and serve as the primary residence of a disabled veteran (or surviving spouse who did not remarry) may have their assessed value reduced by up to $100,000 for taxation purposes.

Veterans’ Homestead Exemption

Qualifying veterans are allowed a one-time reduction of their home’s assessed value upon returning from military service for taxation purposes.

Disabled Veterans’ Homestead Exemptions

Disabled veterans with service-connected disabilities, and their spouses, who meet certain eligibility criteria may be able to have their home’s equalized assessed value lowered for tax purposes. Veterans must apply annually for this exemption.

  • For service-connected veterans with disability rating of 30% to 50%, the exemption is $2,500
  • For service-connected veterans with disability rating of 50% to 70%, the exemption is $5,000
  • Veterans having at least 70% service-connected disability are exempt from paying taxes on their primary residence
  • A spouse of a service member killed in action is exempt from paying property taxes on the primary residence, provided he or she remains unmarried


Camping & Admission Fees

Illinois exempts (for a limited time) certain disabled veterans and former POWs who are residents of Illinois from paying entrance or camping fees at parks under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The exemption time is limited to the amount of time the Veteran spent in service or mobilized. The state requires documentation and you can get more information at the local Veterans service office.

Hunting and Fishing Licenses

Illinois does not require veterans receiving VA compensation for service-connected disabilities rated at 10% or higher to pay for state hunting and fishing licenses. Veterans with no disability rating may be eligible for sporting licenses at half price if they served overseas.


Illinois operates four Veterans homes in Anna, LaSalle, Manteno, and Quincy. The Prince home located in Manteno provides a residential program for disabled or homeless Vets. Each property offers different services and may have different eligibility requirements or other qualifying conditions. Costs also vary, depending on the Veteran’s income. In general, each home offers skilled care to aging veterans, their spouses and/or surviving spouses. Gold Star parents may also apply. 

Each Veteran Home has been licensed by the Dept. of Public Health and certified by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in each respective jurisdiction. They work side-by-side with the local healthcare community so that each resident receives appropriate care in a supportive environment. Some of the eligibility rules are:

  • Veteran must have an honorable discharge
  • Service in the military for at least one day during a timeframe acknowledged by the VA as a war period, OR
  • Duty in a hostile fire environment and was awarded a campaign or expeditionary medal; OR
  • Retired due to disability or injury, OR
  • Active service in the Armed Forces for at least 24 months continuously and entered military after September 7, 1980, OR
  • Being a National Guard or Reservist called to into Active Duty (beyond training) served to end of term. Guard or Reservist may also have completed 20 years of duty and is otherwise eligible to for retirement benefits; OR
  • Veteran was given a hardship discharged and released or was released due to a reduction in force before required service to country could be completed, AND
  • Was a resident of Illinois upon entering the military or a Illinois resident for at least a full year prior to application to the Veterans Home, AND
  • Is incapable of earning a living due to disease, injury, age, etc.

Peacetime veterans are not refused if they meet other qualifying conditions, but preference is given to Veterans with wartime experience. Admission is always predicated on the availability of staff, beds, medical diagnoses and assessed needs.


You can find more information regarding these benefits and other programs at the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs website