In addition to veterans benefits available to you through the federal Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), you are also eligible for benefits through the Texas Veteran's Commission. The benefits available to veterans who are residents of Texas include educational benefits, employment rights, mortgage assistance, and a property tax exemption.
Texas Veterans Educational Benefits
Tuition at Texas state schools is free for veterans thanks to the Hazelwood Act.
Hazelwood Act Tuition Exemption
Under the Hazelwood Act, veterans and their dependent family members can receive exemption from tuition at public colleges and universities in Texas for up to 150 credits. The exemption applies to most fees but will not apply to other costs, such as books and living expenses.
Hazelwood Act Eligibility
To be eligible, the veteran must:
- have been a resident of Texas at the time of going into military service, or have entered military service in Texas, or have indicated Texas as the "home of record"
- have received an honorable discharge or a general discharge under honorable conditions
- have served on active duty for at least 181 days
- not have education benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), or not have educational benefits through the VA that exceed the amount of the Hazelwood tuition exemption
- not be in default on a student loan provided or guaranteed by the State of Texas, and
- take classes that receive financial support from the State of Texas, unless the board of the college has decided to permit veterans to receive the Hazelwood benefit while enrolled in such classes.
Hazelwood Act Application Process
In order to receive Hazelwood funds, a veteran must first:
- get accepted by a public university or college in Texas. Visit www.applytexas.org for application information.
- obtain your DD-214 to prove your military service and type of discharge, and
- call the VA office at (888) 442-4551 (or go to www.gibill.va.gov) to ask for a letter showing whether or not you are eligible for GI Bill benefits through the Montgomery or Post-9/11 bill.
After you have completed the above steps, complete the Hazelwood application form and submit it along with your education benefits letter from the VA and your DD-214 to the financial aid office of the school you have been accepted to. Your financial aid office will let you know whether your application for Hazelwood benefits has been accepted. The office may send you an email or a letter, or simply put funds into your school account.
Texas Veterans Employment Supports
Employment benefits provided by the State of Texas include a hiring preference for veterans and job counseling and assistance.
Veterans Preference for Government Jobs in Texas
Texas veterans who served during wartime, as well as surviving spouses and children of service members killed while serving on active duty, receive hiring preference for jobs with state offices and agencies. State offices are required to give Texas veterans preference for jobs until 40% of the office workforce is comprised of veterans.
Veterans are eligible for this hiring preference if they:
- served at least 90 days during wartime or were discharged with less than 90 days service due to a service-connected disability
- received an honorable discharge, and
- are competent for the position they are applying for.
Veterans who are employed by the state can get up to 60 months of credit toward retirement for their military service, provided that they pay for it.
Employment and Transitional Assistance
The Soldier Employment Initiative offers support and programs to newly separated service members for up to three months. The Women's Veteran Program offers transitional assistance geared to the needs of women.
Texas also provides opportunities for veterans to use their GI Bill benefits towards on the job training with Texas employers.
The Veteran Entrepreneur Program provides services to veterans who would like to start their own businesses. The program holds a conference annually. The purpose of the program is to help veterans find funding and training resources as well as business opportunities.
Home Loans for Texas Veterans
The Texas Veterans Land Board (VLB) offers three different loan programs for veterans:
- Land Loan Program, offering long-term loans at a low interest rate for the purchase of land
- Veterans Housing Assistance Purchase Program, to help veterans buy homes, and
- Veterans Home Improvement Loan Program, providing low-interest loans to help veterans make changes to their homes, including those that may be needed due to disability.
For more information about these loans, visit the Veterans Land Board website.
Texas Property Tax Exemption for Veterans
Disabled veterans, and surviving spouses and dependent children of service members who died while on active duty, are eligible for state property tax exemptions. A disabled veteran must have a service-connected disability rated at least 10% to be eligible for this exemption. Disabled veterans receive exemptions based on their percentage of disability. 100% disabled veterans receive a waiver of all property taxes.
Surviving spouses and dependent children can get a $5,000 property tax exemption.
Visit the Texas Veterans Portal to learn about other veterans benefits available to you as a resident of Texas.