Updated: May 16, 2021
Massachusetts, The Bay State provides benefits for 330,000 veterans.
Massachusetts State Veteran Education Benefits
Commonwealth of Massachusetts College Tuition Waivers
Veterans in Massachusetts may be eligible for tuition waivers for undergraduate work at Massachusetts-supported colleges. Veterans must be legal Massachusetts residents, and students must not be in default on their federal student loans. The program is space-based and provides waivers for full or partial tuition.
Colleges and Universities determine how much space they have available for qualifying veterans. The tuition waivers must be used for work towards a degree or certificate. Some non-credit classes, night schools, and certificate programs may not be eligible for the waivers at some schools.
To apply for waivers, students should contact the state-sponsored institution.
Massachusetts National Guard Tuition and Fees Waiver
Qualifying Massachusetts National Guard members are eligible for tuition and fee waivers for state-supported colleges and universities. Applicants should contact the college or university veterans’ representative.
The Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund (MSLF)
Dependents of Massachusetts service members who have been killed while deployed on Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom are eligible for education funds from MSLF.
The trust provides grants for post-secondary school, higher education, trade, or professional school. Education grants for special needs programs, college counseling, tutoring, summer camps, and related programs may be possible before high school graduation. For more information about the Soldier Legacy Fund, go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Massachusetts Public Service Scholarship Programs
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has scholarships for undergraduate coursework at any Massachusetts institution of higher education for qualifying dependents of state veterans who meet the following requirements:
● Children of service members who were prisoners of war or declared missing in action anywhere in Southeast Asia between February 1, 1955, and the end of the Vietnam War.
● Children of Massachusetts veterans who were either killed in action or died because of military service.
Veterans’ Welcome Home High School Diploma Program
Welcome Home Bill, passed in 2005, allows Massachusetts high schools to award diplomas to World War II, Korean, and Vietnam veterans who left high school for military service before earning a diploma. Contact a Veterans’ Service Officer to apply.
Massachusetts Veteran Employment Benefits
Veteran Preference for State and Civil Service Jobs
Veterans are given preference for civil service jobs in the following order:
1. Disabled veterans 2. Veterans 3. Surviving spouses or single parents of veterans who were either killed in action or died from a wartime service-connected disability. (The surviving spouse does not qualify if remarried)
Veteran applicants to civil service positions that do not require an exam get preference over equally qualified non-veterans.
Qualifying veterans who score at least 70 on open competitive civil service exams move to the top of the eligibility list for the positions like police and firefighter jobs. The preference does not guarantee placement but guarantees first consideration.
Massachusetts State Veteran Housing Benefits
Massachusetts Soldiers’ Homes
There are two state-operated Soldiers’ Homes:
● Chelsea Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea, Massachusetts 617-884-5660
● Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts 413-552-4764
● Acute hospital care
● Domiciliary care
● Long-term care,
● Physical and occupational therapy
● Laboratory and radiology services
● Outpatient care.
● Cognitive impairment care
● Hospice and palliative care
Admission is based on available space and veteran needs and status.
Home for the Brave Program
eMassHousing offers veterans affordable mortgage financing with no down payment needed.
Operation Welcome Home Mortgages
This program, available to the Reserve, Guard, active-duty military, veterans, and Gold Star families, offers affordable home loans. Operation Welcome Home is need-based and has income limits. Purchase price limits and targeted area financing may apply. The program grants up to $2,500 in closing cost aid and may be combined with MassHousing down payment assistance.
Massachusetts State Veteran Financial Benefits
Massachusetts Veterans’ Bonuses and Annuities
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts offers bonuses and payments to qualifying Massachusetts veterans. Payments include annuities for 100% disabled veterans, and bonus payments for service in one of the following:
● World War II
● Persian Gulf
● Operation Enduring Freedom
● Operation Iraqi Freedom
● Operation Noble Eagle
● Operation Inherent Resolve
● Operation Freedom’s Sentinel
Other operations may also be considered if the veterans were discharged under honorable conditions. If the veteran has died, surviving spouses, dependents, parents, or siblings may be eligible to receive the bonuses.
State Property Tax Exemptions for Veterans, their Spouses, and Parents
State property tax exemptions in Massachusetts range from $400 to total exemption for qualifying veterans and family members. Exemptions are offered to Purple Heart recipients, Gold Star Families, surviving spouses, disabled veterans, and others.
To be eligible, the veterans or family members must be legal residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The property must be their primary residence on or before July 1 in the tax year. For residency, the taxpayer must:
● Have lived in Massachusetts for a minimum of six months before entering the service (spouses exempted) OR.
● Have lived in Massachusetts for five consecutive years immediately before filing
● Surviving spouses qualify for property tax exemptions for the period before the death of the veteran. Surviving spouses lose their tax exemptions if they remarry.
● Contact your local assessor’s office to apply.
Massachusetts Military Retirement Pay Tax Exemption
Massachusetts does not charge state income taxes on military retirement income.
Motor Vehicle Excise Tax Exemption for Disabled Veterans, Ex-Prisoners of War
Qualifying veterans who are residents of Massachusetts and have suffered the loss or permanent loss of the use of a foot or arm or has permanent visual impairments determined by the VA or is permanently disabled( as has been determined by the medical advisory board within the Registry of Motor Vehicles) may be eligible for vehicle excise exemption.
This tax break is only available for one non-commercial motor vehicle for personal use. Surviving spouses may also be eligible for the exemption.
Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Sales Tax Exemption for Qualifying Disabled Veterans
Veterans with service-connected disabilities may be eligible for a vehicle sales tax exemption. The exemption is for one person who uses a vehicle.
Massachusetts Financial Public Assistance for Indigent Veterans
Massachusetts offers help to qualifying indigent veterans and their dependents. Medical and financial aid is need-based and provides medical care, food, shelter, and medical care. The amount of assistance depends on the veteran’s number of dependents and income.
The public assistance program is also open to qualifying dependents of veterans who have died. Apply through a Veterans’ Service Officer.
Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services at 617-210-5480.
Additional Massachusetts State Veteran Benefits
Driver License and ID Cards For Veterans
A veteran designation is available for identification cards, drivers’ licenses, learner’s permits, and liquor ID cards for no additional fee.
Massachusetts Military License Plates
The following designations are available for Massachusetts License Plates:
● Bronze Star
● Distinguished Flying Cross
● Medal of Honor
● Legion of Valor
● Pearl Harbor Survivors
● Silver Star
● Purple Heart
● Disabled Veterans
Supporting documentation is required for special plates and disabled veteran placards.
Massachusetts Burial Benefits for Veterans
Massachusetts runs two state veterans’ cemeteries
Eligible veterans are buried without a fee, but a nominal fee applies for the burial of spouses and dependent children.
Requirements include Massachusetts residency and an honorable military discharge. Documents proving eligibility must be presented.
Massachusetts Recreational Licenses for Veterans
Massachusetts offers recreational licenses like hunting and fishing permits to veterans or currently serving military members who present ID or required documentation at in-state rates. Day-use costs like parking fees at state parks may also be waived for veterans with Disabled Veteran designation license plates.