South Dakota State Veterans Benefits

Updated: May 30

South Dakota, The Mount Rushmore State, offers benefits to over 66,000 veterans.


South Dakota Veterans Benefits

South Dakota State Veteran Education Benefits


Tuition Waivers for Veterans and their Dependents

Veterans may get tuition waivers at South Dakota state colleges. To be eligible for waivers, applicants must meet the following conditions:

● Not eligible for any of the federal education programs such as the GI Bill

● Must be enrolled in undergraduate classes at a state college

● Must have been honorably discharged

● Must be a South Dakota resident and qualify for in-state tuition

Veterans must meet one of the following criteria:

● Served in the armed forces after August 2, 1990

● Received one of the following:

o Armed Forces Expeditionary medal

o Campaign or service medal

o Disability rated 10% due to military service

Tuition waivers are awarded per month of qualifying service. Veterans may receive waivers for between one and four academic years

and

surviving dependents of a service member who died may be eligible for tuition waivers at state colleges. The service member must have lived in South Dakota for six months before entering military service. Applicants must meet the following criteria:

● 25 or younger

● South Dakota Resident

● The parent must have been killed while on active duty

Surviving dependents of military service members listed as POW or MIA may also be eligible for state colleges' tuition waivers. Applicants must not be qualified for equal or better federal benefits.



High School Diploma Program for Veterans

Veterans who left school before receiving high school diplomas may be eligible to receive honorary high school diplomas. School districts award these diplomas to applicants who qualify. Students must have served during one of the following periods:

● December 7, 1941, through September 2, 1945

● June 25, 1950, through July 31, 1953, or

● February 28, 1961, through May 7, 1975


Tuition Benefits for National Guard Service Members

Guard members attending state college may qualify to pay only 50% of tuition costs. Included in this program:

● Up to 128 credits towards a bachelor’s degree

● Up to 32 credits in a graduate program

● State Board of Education approved vocational school programs

To qualify for this benefit, applicants must meet the following criteria:

● South Dakota Residency

● South Dakota Army or Air Guard member during the semester or vocational program the benefits are applied to

● Complete required training

● Attend 90% or more drills/training periods

● Must maintain satisfactory academic progress

● Give appropriate notice of the benefits to the

● Receiving Federal educational benefits do not disqualify applicants from this benefit.

Dependents of National Guard members who are disabled due to military service, and surviving dependents of members who have died, may qualify for free tuition at state colleges.

To qualify for free tuition, applicants must meet the following criteria:

● South Dakota Resident

● Under 26

● Parent died due to military service, or

● Became totally and permanently disabled because of military service

Spouses of members disabled due to military service, and surviving spouses of those who have died, may also qualify for this benefit.

To qualify, spouse applicants must meet the following criteria:

● South Dakota, Resident

● Spouse died due to military service, or

● Spouse became totally and permanently disabled because of military service

Tuition waivers apply for any course of study at any state college managed by the South Dakota Board of Regents.




Veterans Hiring Preference

Veterans may be eligible for hiring preference. Preference applies to employment, and promotions in all state, county, municipal, and school district governments. Veterans must who have the minimum qualifications will always be granted an interview. Disabled veterans are given preference over veterans who are not disabled.

To be eligible for employment preference, applicants must have been honorably discharged and be a US citizen.

Qualifying conditions also include:

● Serving full obligation for active duty, reserve, or National Guard, unless

● A veteran was discharged early because of:

o Hardship

o Medical Condition

o Reduction in force or convenience of the military


Applicants must meet job requirements. Veterans who apply must not be disqualified because of their age, loss of a limb, or any other physical impairment.

The surviving spouse (cannot of remarried) of an eligible veteran who died due to military service may be given preference equal to a veteran preference. The spouse must meet minimum job qualifications.

The spouses of a disabled eligible veteran who cannot use their right to employment preference may receive the priority. The spouse must meet minimum job qualifications.

South Dakota State Veteran Housing Benefits


South Dakota Veterans Assisted Care Homes and Nursing Homes

The Michael J. Fitzmaurice Veterans Home in Hot Springs, South Dakota, has 24 daily living beds and 76 skilled nursing beds. For veterans, spouses, or surviving spouses to be eligible for admission, the veterans must meet the following criteria:

● Honorably discharged

● Have served during a time that qualifies the veteran for benefits

● A resident of South Dakota for five years before the application

● Unable to work

● Submit to a completed physical examination within the 60 days before admission

Applicants must also meet the following criteria:

● Ambulatory – able to self-care

● No addiction or mental health issues

A spouse can be admitted to the home with the veteran.

South Dakota State Veteran Financial Benefits


Property Tax Exemption for Disabled Veterans

Paraplegic veterans may qualify for property tax exemption on their dwellings. Dwellings include a structure and up to one acre of land.

To qualify for the exemption, the residence must have been designed to be wheelchair accessible for use by a person with paraplegia. It also must be owned and occupied for one entire calendar year by a veteran with the loss of or lost used of both lower limbs OR by a surviving spouse who has not remarried.


South Dakota State Tax Exemption for Property Owned by Totally Disabled Veterans

Veterans may qualify for exemption from property tax for up to $100,000 of the value for their residence if they meet the criteria:

● The veteran must be VA rated totally and permanently disabled due to military service.

● The dwelling must be owned and occupied for one full calendar year by the veteran or the surviving spouse who has not remarried.


Bonuses for Veterans

Veterans may receive bonuses for military service during designated periods of conflict. Training time does not qualify for this benefit.

To qualify, applicants must be South Dakota residents for six months immediately before joining the armed forces. Applicants must have served during qualifying periods:

● August 2, 1990, through March 3, 1991 (any active service)

● March 4, 1991, through December 31, 1992 (service in hostile area and eligibility for Southwest Asia Service Medal)

● January 1, 1993, through September 10, 2001 (service in hostile area and eligibility for a campaign or combat service medal)

● After September 11, 2001 (final date not yet determined)

A veteran may also qualify for a $500 bonus for serving during the following periods:

● Desert Storm: August 2, 1990, through December 31, 1992

● On or after January 1, 1993


Additional South Dakota State Veteran Benefits


Veteran License Plates

Veterans may qualify for special designation license plates. A $10.00 annual fee and $5.00 mailing fee are charged for these plates, but no yearly registration fees are charged.


Disabled Veteran Plates:

To qualify for these plates, applicants must be residents of South Dakota with a disability due to military service during wartime or a military mission involving armed conflict.

Applicants must also already qualify to receive one of the following benefits:

● K award

● Benefits for total disability because of military service

● The vehicle through Public Law 187

● Benefits for loss of an extremity

● Benefits for loss of use of an extremity


Pearl Harbor Survivor:

Applicants must meet the following criteria:

● South Dakota Resident

● Survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941

● Honorable discharge

Upon the applicant's death, these plates must be returned to the county treasurer’s office, but additional fees will not be charged for the registration year.


POW Plates:

Applicants must meet the following criteria:

● South Dakota resident

● POW

Upon the death of the applicant, the plates must be returned to the county treasurer’s office.


Fee-Free Veterans Records

State or federal agency, counties may not charge veterans any fees for certified copies of these documents:

● Adoption records

● Birth certificates

● Conservatorship paperwork

● Death certificates

● Divorce decrees

● Marriage certificates

● Guardianship records

To qualify for this benefit, claims must be made by, or on behalf of:

● Service members

● Veterans, their spouses, or surviving spouses

● Dependents

● Surviving dependents


Veteran Recreational Benefits

Veterans may qualify for reduced-fee hunting and fishing licenses. This four-year license replaces resident small game and fishing licenses.

Applicants must be South Dakota residents and meet one of the following criteria:

● Receipt of K award

● VA certified as 40% or greater disability due to military service

● Receipt of benefits from Social Security due to a military service-related disability

● Former POW

The application. A $10 processing fee and verification papers must be submitted to receive the licenses.

Disabled Veterans and Former POW are eligible for Lifetime State Park Entrance Licenses. These licenses provide the following:

● 50% discount on camping fees

● 50% discount on electrical service fees for site or cabin

● Exemption from the usual $2.00 reservation call center fee

Applicants must meet the following criteria:

● South Dakota Resident of South Dakota

● K award recipient, verified by a letter from the VA

● 100% disability attributed to military service, confirmed by VA letter

● Former POW showed on discharge paperwork

Lodges at state park lodges are excluded.


Burial Benefits for Veterans

Veterans, spouses, or surviving spouses, who cannot pay funeral and burial expenses, may qualify for a burial allowance of up to $100.

Applicants must meet one of the following criteria:

● US citizen

● Honorably discharged

● A resident of South Dakota for one year before joining the military, or

● South Dakota resident for one year before death

Applicants must submit proof of their financial hardship to the Veterans Service Officer. The officer must apply for the payment to the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs in Pierre within one year of burial.

Some veterans qualify for a payment of $100 towards the fee charged for setting a government marker or headstone.

Applicants must meet one of the following criteria:

● A resident of South Dakota for one year before joining the military, or

● South Dakota resident for one year before death

The veteran's family must submit the request to the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs in Pierre within a year of the marker or headstone setting.

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