Your Ultimate Guide to 2021 Veteran Benefits in Pennsylvania
There are many Pennsylvania veteran benefits and exemptions provided by the state to honor the service of current and former members of the U.S. military.
Pennsylvania is ranked #4 in the country for veteran population by state, with over 800,000 veteran residents! VA Claims Insider has built this complete guide of Pennsylvania veteran benefits to help Pennsylvania veterans find all the benefits you earned!
With such a large veteran population, it’s no wonder that Pennsylvania offers so many different benefits for veterans. The state offers full property tax exemptions for disabled veterans, state income tax exemptions, extensive tuition assistance for veterans and their families, recreational discounts, and emergency financial aid options for veterans in need.
An excellent resource for Pennsylvania veterans is the state’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), which assists veterans in securing all the benefits they rightfully earned at three field offices across the state.
Make sure to compare the different types of exemptions you may qualify for as a veteran, especially when it comes to tuition assistance options.
- Your Ultimate Guide to 2021 Veteran Benefits in Pennsylvania
- Property Tax Exemptions for Veterans in Pennsylvania
- Veteran Income Tax Exemptions in Pennsylvania
- What Pennsylvania veteran benefits are available for education?
- Hiring and Employment Benefits for Pennsylvania Veterans
- Financial Assistance Programs in Pennsylvania
- Housing Benefits for Veterans in Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Veteran Benefits for Healthcare
- Pennsylvania Veteran Benefits at the DMV
- Veterans Benefits in Pennsylvania for Recreation
- Miscellaneous Benefits for Pennsylvania Veterans
- Are there special property tax exemptions for Pennsylvania veterans?
- Are there income tax benefits for Pennsylvania veterans?
- Does Pennsylvania award college credit for military training?
- Does Pennsylvania offer tuition assistance for veterans and their dependents?
- Do Pennsylvania veterans receive preferential treatment when seeking employment?
- Does Pennsylvania offer employment counseling and assistance to veterans seeking employment?
- Does Pennsylvania offer any special financial assistance to veterans and their families?
- Are there special Pennsylvania veteran benefits offering reduced recreational fees?
- MAKE SURE YOU GET ALL THE BENEFITS YOU DESERVE
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Property Tax Exemptions for Veterans in Pennsylvania
PA disabled veteran benefits include property tax exemptions. If you’re a disabled veteran with a 100 percent VA disability rating, you may qualify for a complete property tax exemption!
Unlike many other states, Pennsylvania considers your income for this exemption. If you make less than $94,279, you don’t need to show household financial information, but if you make more than this amount you’ll have to prove financial need by detailing your household expenses.
To be eligible, in addition to the VA rating and financial limits you must meet all of these requirements:
- You were honorably discharged
- You served during a period of war (or received an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal or Navy Expeditionary Medal)
- You’re a Pennsylvania resident
- You own and occupy the house you’re claiming as your primary residence
The exemption is reviewed every five years and can be passed onto unremarried surviving spouses.
Apply by contacting your local County Veteran Affairs Director.
Veteran Income Tax Exemptions in Pennsylvania
Great news for military retirees—Pennsylvania does not tax military retirement pay. Also, if you’re an active duty service member stationed outside of the state, Pennsylvania doesn’t collect state income tax on your military pay!
For service members serving within Pennsylvania, your military pay will be taxed at the state income tax rate of 3.07 percent.
Pennsylvania veteran benefits also include no taxation on:
- Military disability pay
- VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) pay
As a veteran you can simply deduct military retirement, military disability, or DIC pay from your adjusted gross income for the state.
What Pennsylvania veteran benefits are available for education?
Pennsylvania veteran benefits include a wealth of educational benefits and programs for veterans, service members, and their families.
Resident College Tuition Rates in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania veteran benefits include in-state tuition rates for eligible active-duty military and veterans. In-state tuition rates are available at any Pennsylvania public college or university for active-duty military personnel stationed in Pennsylvania, or their spouses or dependent children.
United States veterans eligible for VA education benefits, as well as spouses and dependent children, are also eligible for resident tuition. The student must move to Pennsylvania by the first day of school and remain a resident throughout the course of study.
College Credit in Pennsylvania for Military Training
Pennsylvania colleges recognize the valuable training you received during your service. All universities and local community colleges in Pennsylvania use the recommendations made by the American Council on Education (ACE) to award academic credit for military training.
To claim college credit, request a transcript from your military service branch. Each service branch will provide official copies of ACE transcripts to Pennsylvania schools at no charge.
Air Force personnel should contact the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) for their transcripts here.
Army, Navy, and Marine personnel can download their Joint Services Transcripts (JST) online.
Pennsylvania Veteran Tuition Assistance Programs
Pennsylvania veteran benefits include six different programs offering tuition assistance, including two programs just for members of the Pennsylvania National Guard or Air National Guard:
- Pennsylvania State Grant Program
- Postsecondary Educational Gratuity Program (PEGP)
- Pennsylvania Educational Gratuity
- Children of POW/MIA Soldiers
- Pennsylvania National Guard Educational Assistance Program (EAP)
- Pennsylvania National Guard Military Family Education Program
The first five programs are all administered by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, while the Pennsylvania Educational Gratuity is administered by the Department of MIlitary and Veterans Affairs.
Pennsylvania State Grant Program
This program offers veterans assistance in paying for college. Veterans will receive significantly more tuition assistance if attending school in Pennsylvania, but you can still receive up to $800 per year if you decide to go to college out-of-state. To qualify you must:
- Have active duty service or have been a cadet or midshipman at one of the service academies
- Have an honorable discharge
- Be a veteran by June 30 of the academic year you’re applying for aid
- Enroll at least half-time in a program of study at least two years in academic length
- Not have received a bachelor’s degree already
The grant is designed to cover in-state tuition and fees and you can find out how much you could be awarded here.
When applying, you’ll use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) application. If you qualify, your Expected Family Contribution or any Pell award for which you’re eligible will not be used to calculate grant award amounts.
To start your application for a Pennsylvania State Grant, create an account online.
Postsecondary Educational Gratuity Program
Pennsylvania veteran benefits for education honor service members who gave their lives in service of our country. The state covers full tuition, fees, and room and board for the children of these veterans at public colleges and universities in Pennsylvania.
To apply, children must:
- Be residents of Pennsylvania
- Be a child by birth or adoption of a National Guard member or service member on federal or state active military duty who died on or after September 11, 2001 as a direct result of performing his or her duties
- Be age 25 or younger when applying for the program
- Complete a FAFSA application
- Be enrolled at a PA public college or university pursuing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree full-time.
Mail your completed application no later than March 31 of the year you’re applying to:
Postsecondary Educational Gratuity Program
State Grant and Special Programs
P.O. Box 8157
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8157
Pennsylvania Educational Gratuity
As an honorably discharged wartime veteran with service-connected disabilities, each of your children may be eligible for up to $500 per term for their college education, or $4000 total. This program is the only tuition assistance program in the state managed by the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
Note: Don’t confuse this program with the Postsecondary Educational Gratuity Program, which is for children of service members who die in service of our nation.
You must be rated 100 percent disabled by the VA to qualify for Pennsylvania veteran benefits under this gratuity. Your children must be between age 16 to 23 and going to college in Pennsylvania. They must also be residents of Pennsylvania for at least five years before applying.
Apply by contacting your local County Veteran Affairs Director.
Children of POW/MIA Soldiers
Children of POW/MIA service members may be eligible for college tuition assistance at any Pennsylvania public college or university, with a maximum award up to $1,200 per student. To be eligible, the service member must have been a resident of Pennsylvania for at least 12 months prior to active duty service, served after January 21, 1955, and not deserted or defected to the enemy or been discharged under conditions other than “honorable.”
This award is based on state funding, so be sure to apply early and no later than April 1 of the spring term for which you’re requesting aid.
To apply, call 1-800-692-7392 to request an application.
Pennsylvania National Guard Tuition Assistance
Educational Assistance Program for National Guard Members
If you’re a National Guard member with a six-year service commitment, you may be eligible for 100 percent tuition assistance for college in Pennsylvania! Undergraduate students can choose between full-time or part-time at a state school. Graduate students are only eligible for part-time tuition. This program is not limited to public colleges and universities.
The takeaway here is that if you decide to go to an institution that charges more than a state-owned university, you’ll only receive the cost of in-state tuition at a Pennsylvania public university.
Military Family Education Program (MFEP) for National Guard Family Members
Not only are National Guard members eligible for tuition assistance, family members are as well! If members reenlist for an additional six-year service commitment after the original six (if they take advantage of tuition assistance for themselves), spouses and children are eligible for similar education benefits:
- 100 percent tuition paid for full or part-time attendance at a state-owned university
- Choice of undergraduate or graduate studies
The benefit can be split between family members.
Spouses can use these Pennsylvania veteran benefits up to six years after the member’s separation from the PA Guard, while children have until age 26 to use their MFEP benefit.
The same rule applies to the amount of tuition awarded: if dependents choose a private university which costs more than a public university, they’ll be responsible for covering the cost differential.
Contact your unit’s Readiness NCO to apply for either of these programs.
Hiring and Employment Benefits for Pennsylvania Veterans
There are a number of Pennsylvania veteran benefits that offer support with employment, and many resources are available to help veterans and their families find jobs and advance their careers.
Pennsylvania Veterans’ Employment Preference
Veterans and disabled veterans receive preference when applying for federal, state, county, and local government jobs in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania offers preference to veterans, spouses of disabled veterans, and gold star spouses applying to state jobs by adding 10 points to the civil service exam. City job applicants receive a 15-percent addition to their civil service exam. Preference is also given during promotion consideration.
Veterans must have an honorable discharge to receive preference, and veterans or eligible spouses must meet the minimum requirements for the position.
Pennsylvania Veterans Employment Assistance
Pennsylvania provides specialized employment and training services at Pennsylvania CareerLink office throughout the state for veterans and spouses. Specialists focus on matching veterans and their job skills to employer job openings. You can even request referral to training if you’re looking to transition to a different career. You’re an eligible veteran if you served on active duty, with the National Guard, or as a Reservist, and received an honorable discharge.
Specialty services for disabled veterans under the Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP) are also available at the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh CareerLink locations.
Get help with job seeker services at your local CareerLink location, or call (866) 858-2753.
Financial Assistance Programs in Pennsylvania
Veterans Temporary Assistance
Pennsylvania veteran benefits include this program to help veterans and their family members to cover the basics of life during times of financial need. The assistance provides up to $1,600 in one year to veterans and families to help cover expenses such as food, housing, gas, clothing, and medical expenses.
To qualify, veterans must show that there is financial need for assistance. Usually this means showing loss of income or an increase in expenses that prove the veteran or family is temporarily unable to cover basic living expenses.
To qualify, a veteran must be a resident of Pennsylvania and have an honorable discharge. Surviving spouses can also apply if the veteran would have qualified prior to death.
Apply with your local County Veteran Affairs Director.
Military Family Relief Assistance Program (MFRAP)
MFRAP is another Pennsylvania veteran benefit for military families in need. The program applies to active duty, PA National Guard, and reserve members. To qualify for a grant up to $3,500, you must show that you have an immediate financial need due to circumstances beyond your control.
For National Guard and reserve members, you must be in good standing and, at the time of application, have served at least 30 or more days of active duty service within the last three years. You can also request assistance if you were medically discharged due to a service-connected issue from the PA National Guard or Reserves within the last four years.
Apply by contacting your local County Veteran Affairs Director.
Pennsylvania offers two types of monthly pensions of $150 for disabled veterans:
- Blind veterans pension
- Paralyzed veterans pension
To qualify, honorably discharged veterans must have received a service-connected injury or disease which resulted in blindness or the loss (or loss of use) of two or more extremities. Veterans must also have entered service from Pennsylvania.
Apply with your local County Veteran Affairs Director. Bring your DD214, proof of Pennsylvania residency, and your VA disability claim number.
Housing Benefits for Veterans in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania veteran benefits include six Veterans Homes across the state, offering extended care to eligible veterans and family members. Each home is committed to fostering an active lifestyle for residents.
The Veterans’ Homes are located in:
- Hollidaysburg Veterans’ Home – Hollidaysburg
- Pennsylvania Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home – Erie
- Southeastern Veterans’ Center – Spring City
- Gino J. Merli Veterans’ Center – Scranton
- Southwestern Veterans’ Center – Pittsgburg
- Delaware Valley Veterans’ Home – Philadelphia
You must be a resident of Pennsylvania or have entered military service from Pennsylvania. Current residents of the state have priority in admissions. Spouses are also eligible on a space-available basis.
Services and features include:
- Personal care
- Skilled nursing care
- Memory care
You can learn how to apply online or by mail by visiting the DMVA Veterans’ Home website.
Contact admissions coordinators by phone to answer additional questions.
Pennsylvania Veteran Benefits for Healthcare
Pennsylvania Veteran Benefits at the DMV
Pennsylvania Military Service Designation on Driver’s License
Among additional Pennsylvania veteran benefits is the option to request a “Veteran” designation at no additional cost on the front of a Pennsylvania driver’s license or ID card at renewal.
The “Veteran” printed on the lower right hand of the license allows honorably discharged Pennsylvania veterans to validate their honorable service with a government-issued ID card.
To apply for the designation, veterans must provide proof of residency and service with a DD214 at the local Department of Motor Vehicles or online.
License Plates for Military and Veterans
Pennsylvania offers 48 different military-themed license plates. Some plates require documentation to qualify for them. There are two options for disabled veteran plates:
- Disabled Veteran Registration Plate
- Severely Disabled Veteran Plate
Both license plates require certification from the VA of a service-connected disability rating, but the Severely Disabled Veteran Plate requires a 100 percent disability rating. This plate grants an additional 60 minutes past the legal parking period permitted by local authorities to the veteran.
Complete Form MV-145A to request a disabled veteran plate at your local DMV.
Veterans Benefits in Pennsylvania for Recreation
Discounted Hunting and Fishing Licenses for Disabled Veterans
Fishing Hunting and Licenses for Pennsylvania Resident Veterans
You may qualify for a free hunting and fishing license if you have a 100 percent VA disability rating, are an amputee, or lost the use of one or more limbs during a war or armed conflict. You must be a Pennsylvania resident. Permanently disabled veterans are eligible for lifetime licenses.
If you have a VA disability rating of 60 percent or higher or a former POW, you’re eligible for discounted hunting and fishing licenses, which cost $2.97.
Pennsylvania sells fishing and hunting licenses separately. Fishing licenses are sold through the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. You can purchase a free or discounted fishing license from your local county license agent or at one of the six regional law enforcement offices.
Hunting licenses are sold through the Pennsylvania Game Commission website, as well as a country treasurer office or local county license agent.
Resident Military Hunting Licenses
If you’re an active duty military member stationed outside of Pennsylvania home on leave, you may qualify for a $2.97 one-year hunting license. This license includes one antlered deer tag, one fall turkey tag, one spring turkey tag, and small game hunting.
National Guard members and Reservists deployed overseas, or on active orders for 60 days or more within the last 24 months, are also eligible for a $2.97 hunting license.
Miscellaneous Benefits for Pennsylvania Veterans
The Pennsylvania Veterans Registry
Pennsylvania wants to make sure veterans like you are aware of the benefits you earned! The Veterans Registry is a one-stop shop to make sure you stay up to date with benefits available to Pennsylvania veterans and their family members. Once you register, you can opt in to newsletter and program updates.
Are there special property tax exemptions for Pennsylvania veterans?
Yes, 100 percent disabled veterans receive a full property tax exemption in Pennsylvania if their annual income is less than $94,279. Veterans may still receive an exemption if they can prove financial need. In order to qualify, the veteran must have served during a period of war with an honorable discharge. The exemption is reviewed every five years. Surviving spouses of eligible veterans may also apply for this benefit.
Are there income tax benefits for Pennsylvania veterans?
Active service members who are residents of Pennsylvania do not have to pay state income tax if they are stationed outside of the state. Pennsylvania does not tax military retirement pay.
Does Pennsylvania award college credit for military training?
Yes, Pennsylvania colleges consider military training and experience based off of military transcripts. Each school awards credit individually.
Does Pennsylvania offer tuition assistance for veterans and their dependents?
Pennsylvania veteran benefits include six different types of tuition assistance programs for veterans and their families, including two programs just for National Guard members. These programs range from an annual stipend to covering full tuition and fees at state schools.
Do Pennsylvania veterans receive preferential treatment when seeking employment?
Pennsylvania veterans with an honorable discharge and gold star spouses receive 10 points added to the Pennsylvania civil service exam. City job applicants receive a 15 percent added credit to the civil service exam.
Does Pennsylvania offer employment counseling and assistance to veterans seeking employment?
Yes, Pennsylvania veteran benefits include access to specialized employment and training through CareerLink locations throughout the state. Active duty, National Guard, and Reservist veterans are all eligible for this program.
Does Pennsylvania offer any special financial assistance to veterans and their families?
Pennsylvania offers two types of financial assistance to veterans in need. Veterans Temporary Assistance provides up to $1,600 per year, while the Military Family Relief Program provides up to $3,500 per year based on financial need. Veterans must be residents of PA with an honorable discharge. The state also offers a monthly $150 pension for both blind and paralyzed veterans who are certified as service-connected through the VA.
Are there special Pennsylvania veteran benefits offering reduced recreational fees?
The Pennsylvania Game Commission and Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission offer free and discounted hunting and fishing licenses to disabled veterans. Veterans with a 60 percent to 99 percent VA disability rating as well as former POWs are eligible for reduced fee licenses, while veterans with a 100 percent disability rating are eligible for free licenses.
MAKE SURE YOU GET ALL THE BENEFITS YOU DESERVE
Regardless of what state you live in, it’s important that veterans pursue the monthly compensation payments due them for disabilities connected to their military service.
Most veterans are underrated for their disabilities and therefore not getting the compensation they deserve. At VA Claims Insider, we help veterans understand and take control of the claims process, so they can get the rating and compensation they’re owed by law.
Our process takes the guesswork out of filing a VA disability claim and supports you every step of the way in building a fully-developed claim (FDC) – so you can increase your rating in less time! If you’ve filed your VA disability claim and have been denied or have received a low rating – or you’re not sure how to get started – reach out to us! You served … you deserve.
Take advantage of a FREE VA Claim Strategy Session with an experienced veteran coach. Learn what you’ve been missing—so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation you deserve! We’ve supported more than 15,000 veterans to win their claims and increase their ratings. NOW IT’S YOUR TURN.
About the Author
About VA Claims Insider
VA Claims insider is an education-based coaching/consulting company. We’re here for disabled veterans exploring eligibility for increased VA disability benefits and who wish to learn more about that process. We also connect veterans with independent medical professionals in our referral network for medical examinations, disability evaluations, and credible Independent Medical Opinions & Nexus Statements (Medical Nexus Letters) for a wide range of disability conditions.