Massachusetts offers a variety of benefits to veterans who are residents of the state. This is in addition to benefits available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Veterans are provided with state educational benefits, employment supports, tax exemptions, and more.
Welcome Home Bonuses and Annuities
A one-time bonus is available for veterans of the armed forces who were legal residents of Massachusetts immediately before deployment. The amount of the veteran's bonus ($100 to $1,000) depends on the time and place of your service. In case of the death of the veteran, the following family members (in the order stated) are eligible for the bonus: husband or wife, children, parents, siblings, or other dependents.
Visit the Veterans' Services website for more information on eligibility requirements.
A $2,000 annuity is provided to veterans who are totally and permanently disabled (100%) due to service-connected disabilities. It is also available to Gold Star parents and Gold Star husbands and wives of distinguished veterans who died during wartime service. For additional eligibility requirements and application procedures, visit the Veterans' Services website.
Massachusetts offers some generous educational assistance to qualifying veterans.
Tuition Waiver for Veterans and Active Service Members
Massachusetts offers a tuition waiver to eligible veterans and active service members. Technically this is called a “categorical waiver."
Eligibility for this waiver requires that you are a veteran who served in a war, including Vietnam, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf, or in Somalia for at least 90 days, and your last discharge was under honorable conditions, or, you are a member of the armed forces currently stationed in Massachusetts and living in the state.
In addition, eligibility requires that you:
- were a permanent resident of the state for one year or more before the start of the academic year
- are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- are not in default on any educational loan and do not owe a financial aid refund
- take at least one course each semester in a state educational institution, and
- remain in good academic standing.
If you are granted a tuition waiver, you may still be responsible for paying any associated registration fees. Ask your school if they waive these fees.
To apply for tuition waiver, call the financial aid office at your school or contact the state office of student financial assistance at (617) 391-6070. For more information, see the Department of Education's tuition waiver page.
Free Tuition for National Guard Members
Members of the Massachusetts National Guard are eligible for free tuition and fee waivers at state educational institutions. Continuing eligibility requires good academic standing in your degree program. The benefits will cover up to 130 credits in your program.
Upward Bound Program
Massachusetts offers a free program to help veterans gain study skills and interpersonal skills that will help them succeed when they go to college. This program is called Upward Bound. It is offered at Suffolk University and at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.
Eligibility for Upward Bound requires that your parent, or the primary person who raised you, did not go to college and:
- you have need for academic help
- you served more than 180 days in the armed forces (or less, if you were discharged due to a service-connected disability or are a reservist who served post-9/11)
- you were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable
- you have a low income that meets the income requirements of the program, and
- you are a citizen of the U.S. or a permanent resident.
Housing and Home Loan Programs
The Home for the Brave program offers mortgages without down payments through MassHousing. Contact a participating lender for more information on how to apply. The program helps cover closing costs and offers coverage of your mortgage payments for up to six months in case you are deployed or lose your job.
Subsidized housing is available for homeless veterans in Massachusetts through the VA Boston Healthcare for Homeless Veterans Housing Search Group. Call 617-248-1373 for information about how to apply. For information about other supports for homeless veterans, visit the mass.gov housing website.
Transitional assistance such as job counseling and information about employment and training opportunities is available through the grant-funded Veterans Employment & Training Services (VETS) Program. Special services are available for disabled vets.
Civil Service and Hiring Preferences
Veterans are eligible for extra points on civil service exams and hiring preference for civil service jobs. Disabled veterans get the highest preference, then non-disabled veterans, then unmarried spouses or unmarried parents of vets who died in action or died from a service-connected disability caused by wartime service.
To find out if you are eligible veteran under Massachusetts law, visit the state veteran status eligibility page. Eligibility requires a discharge under honorable conditions and service requirements based on the time you served.
Other Employment Supports
To learn about all the employment benefits available to veterans, go to the Massachusetts employment and training website.
Property Tax Exemption
Massachusetts offers a small property tax exemption for disabled veterans. To be eligible, a veteran must:
- be rated at least 10% disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
- have received an other than dishonorable discharge
- own and live in the property on July 1 of the year in which the exemption is applied for
- have lived in Massachusetts for six months or more prior to going into the service, or have lived in Massachusetts for five years in a row right before applying for this exemption.
To apply for the property tax exemption, contact the tax assessor’s office in your community. You can also call the Massachusetts Department of Revenue at 617-626-2300 or visit their website www.mass.gov/dor. You must apply for this exemption every year in order to remain eligible to receive it.
For details about all tax exemptions offered for veterans, read about local tax benefits at the mass.gov website.
Additional Benefits and Services
Massachusetts offers resources for women veterans including housing programs and a program to help with for recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol and drug abuse.
State Veterans’ Cemeteries are located in Agawam and Winchendon. Veterans can be buried in these cemeteries at no cost. A small fee applies to the burial of spouses and dependents. For more information, visit the state veterans cemetery page.
Free community rowing is available for veterans at the Harry Parker boathouse in Brighton. Call 617-779-8277 for more information.
For information about additional veterans benefits in Massachusetts, visit the Veterans’ Services website.