Updated: Nov 14, 2020
Benefits for the nearly Two Million Veterans in California
California Veteran Education Benefits
College/University Veteran Tuition Waivers
State community colleges, California State University, and University of California, offer free tuition to some California veterans and their qualifying dependents. The non-resident fee may also be waived. The cost of books, housing, and meals are not covered under the waiver. Talk to your admissions contact about the details.
California National Guard Education Assistance Award Program
California National Guard (CNG) members of the State Military Reserve (MSR) members who have served the required amount of time can have up to 100% of tuition and fees covered for Community Colleges in California, the Universities of California, or California State Universities. Some other educational institutions may also qualify. Prospective students must have served for at least two years in the CNG or MSR. The students also agree to continue serving while using the benefit. The benefit applies only to credits towards a degree. Cal Grant award recipients cannot use this benefit in the same academic year.
Troops to College
California State Troops to College program focuses on the needs of military members and dependents seeking an education at California state colleges and universities. The program helps students transition from military to academic life. Military liaisons on campus can help evaluate military experiences and training for college credit.
California Veteran Employment Benefits
Veteran Employment Programs
California’s CalVets Jobs works with the California Department of Veterans Affairs to aid veterans seeking employment.
The California Employment Development Department will place a 24-hour veteran priority hold on job listings to help veterans be first in line for interviews. The agency sets interview appointments with veterans’ special representatives to get applying veterans' personalized service.
Veterans get hiring preferences for selected California state jobs. Bring discharge paperwork and identification when applying for state employment or applying to take civil service exams. Look at the requirements on the job portal (including caljobs.ca.gov) for paperwork submission procedures.
Employment Development Department (EDD)
California State EDD, which includes CalJobs, permits military members to search for a job based on a Military Occupational Specialty code. (or other such identifiers like Air Force Specialty Codes, Navy Enlisted Classification Codes, etc.)
EDD offers qualifying veterans and their family members priority. A service member must have a discharge other than Dishonorable. Others that get priority service include surviving spouses of members who died on active duty, spouses of POW/MIAs, and spouses of military members VA has rated at 100% disability.
Department of Industrial Relations Apprenticeship Finder for Veterans
Apprenticeship programs can provide veterans with an opportunity for education and future employment stability. Veterans can find Vet-oriented apprenticeships through The California Department of Industrial Relations Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS). The apprenticing programs combine classroom learning and on-the-job job training. Because there are so many programs available, DAS has consultants who match veterans to the perfect opportunities.
Troops to Trucks Program
Service members who have had military driving experience equivalent to civilian commercial driving can apply for a waiver of the commercial driver’s license driving test.
California Veteran Housing Benefits
Veterans Homes of California
There are veterans homes located in the following cities:
● Chula Vista
● West Los Angeles
Visit the National Association of State Veteran Homes for a California state home directory with contact information, eligibility requirements, and much for more.
Farm and Home Loans
CalVets offers home or farm loans from the State of California to veterans, whether they are California residents or not. The loans include low or no down payment requirements depending on the applicants' financial qualifications. Interest rates for the loans are lower. Some veterans may be able to use this California veteran benefit a second time.
Veteran Property Tax Exemption
Resident California veterans may qualify for a property tax exemption. At this time, the exemption stands at $4000. To qualify, applicants must be currently serving, have been honorably discharged, be an unmarried surviving spouse, or the parent of a deceased veteran who qualified. A tax professional can help guide you through the qualification and application process.
Veterans with blindness in both eyes, a loss of two limbs as a result of military service, or with a 100% disability rating can apply for property tax exemptions, too. There are two versions. The basic level exempts the first $100,000 of home value, but a low-income level allows for a higher exemption amount.
Veteran Affordable Housing Programs
Veterans with low incomes can find permanent housing through CalVet’s Residential Enriched Neighborhood program. They must first qualify for a CalVet loan and participate in the program's sweat-equity part and complete the self-sufficiency class provided by the program. Under sweat-equity, the veteran may help with the construction of their future home.
The Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program, under CalVet, provides money directly to various California agencies that, in turn, create multi-family rental housing that is veteran-friendly. Financial incentives encourage the companies to focus on the housing needs of American veterans.
California Veteran Financial Benefits
Veterans with unmet financial needs have other options, including applying for help from the VFW Unmet Needs program. The California Military Family Relief Funds has grants for California National Guard members and their families if they find themselves in financial trouble because of a deployment or mobilization. To qualify, the member must be a California resident and have been deployed for a minimum of 60 consecutive days. The applicant’s household income must have been reduced by a minimum of 10%.
Additional California Veteran Benefits
Motor Vehicles Benefits For Veterans
Veterans can get specially designed license plates for their vehicles. Visit your local Department of Motor Vehicle Office for details. Service members can be exempt from penalty fees for late license and registration renewals whenever the member is deployed outside the state. Military service members can also operate vehicles registered in other states within California.
County Veterans Affairs Offices
Each California provides additional unique benefits. Check with local veterans’ service organizations for veterans’ benefits. The CVAO, established in 1946, helps veterans, their dependents, Gold Star families, and the surviving spouses, services, and advocacy through local county offices.