Tuition and Funding

Sonoran Desert Institute

We can work with a variety of funding programs for those who qualify.

Tuition and Funding Options

We know from experience that students have greater opportunity for success when they do not carry a financial burden during school. At the Sonoran Desert Institute, all of our colleges and schools work with a variety of funding programs for those who qualify.

Military Tuition Assistance (TA)

Active duty, National Guard, reserve and veterans may be eligible for tuition assistance and/or scholarships. Currently, TA pays up to $250 per credit hour for a maximum of 16 credits annually. Additional criteria exists to determine eligibility and each branch has its own criteria for determining the amount of TA a service member may receive. Active duty military service members should contact their base Education Services Officer (ESO) for details.

Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES)

Several SDI programs are approved to participate in DANTES. For information on this program, students should contact their base Education Services Officer (ESO) for details.

Veterans Assistance

Several SDI programs are approved by the Veterans Administration for the use of GI Bill® Benefits, including Chapters 30, 33, 35, 1606, and 1607. Eligible veterans can access additional information and apply using the VONAPP at The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) determines student eligibility. Eligibility may be impacted by many factors including other schools attended, annual funding caps, and enrollment status. Note that although SDI’s full-time enrollment status requires 12 semester credits during a 16-week term, the VA considers eligibility based on course specific credit hours and durations during the semester. Students are typically enrolled in multiple courses during a term and the modular nature of the schedule may impact the VA’s calculation which may vary during the semester based on actual scheduled courses. The table below illustrates the enrollment status for each individual course which, when combined, can impact the actual enrollment status for the period.

Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation (Chapter 31)

Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation is a program designed to assist eligible Veterans in achieving maximum independence in their daily life and aid them in becoming a contributing part of society.  Students seeking assistance under this program should contact the Vocational Rehabilitation Department of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Employer Tuition Assistance

Several employers offer tuition assistance to their employees. Specific details vary by employer. Prospective students are encouraged to consult with the human resources department of their employer to determine eligibility and requirements to receive such assistance. SDI will work with students and employers to accommodate the methodology and arrangements accordingly.

Federal Student Aid (FSA)

Students enrolling in the Associate of Science in Firearms Technology degree program may be eligible for Federal Student Aid (FSA). For complete information, please visis our Federal Student Aid (FSA) page.

SDI Waivers and Scholarships

SDI encourages students to seek scholarship and grant opportunities offered by a multitude of agencies. Additionally, the following financial support is available to eligible candidates.

Active Duty Waiver

In recognition of active duty military service, SDI waives the Educational Resource Fee for any student that can provide evidence of current, active military duty during the period of enrollment, regardless of how they fund their education at SDI.

SGT Michael Beckerman Memorial Scholarship

SGT Michael Joe Beckerman was 17 ½ when he enlisted into the National Guard.

SGT Beckerman served two tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and one tour in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While serving his country on these deployments, SGT Beckerman enrolled into the Sonoran Desert Institute and worked toward continuing his education. On 31 December 2010, he made the ultimate sacrifice. SGT Beckerman was killed in action (KIA) in Howz-e Madad, Afghanistan. He is survived by his daughter Brianna.

In memoriam of our student’s great sacrifice, the Sonoran Desert Institute is proud to present the SGT Michael Beckerman Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship provides full tuition and fees each semester to two recipients annually, one in the Fall and one in the Spring

Initial Eligibility Requirements:

The SGT Michael Beckerman Memorial Scholarship is a full academic scholarship for SDI’s Associate of Science and Firearms Technology degree program. All applying candidates must:

  • Currently serve in the armed forces or be a veteran of military service.
  • Applicants must be in good standing with his/her current branch of service or have received an “Honorable Discharge.”
  • Applicants must provide a DD214, or other documentation verifying military service.
  • Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to and passion for the firearms industry and gunsmithing trade by answering essay questions.
  • Applicants must submit a regular SDI application for enrollment with all relevant supporting documentation.
  • Applicants must provide a Letter of Recommendation sent directly to the school by the individual providing the recommendation. This letter may come from the commander for members of the military service; or from any non-family member for applicants that are post-military.
  • Military documentation of service, DD214 if post military service
  • Recipients must begin studies at SDI within 6 months following the award of the scholarship.
  • Continuing Eligibility:

    The SGT Michael Beckerman Memorial Scholarship is a full academic scholarship for SDI’s Associate of Science and Firearms Technology degree program. All applying candidates must:

    Recipients must be meeting SDI’s Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements and be free of any financial holds on their accounts.

    Recipients must be continuously enrolled to retain scholarship eligibility.


    Applicants must provide answers to the following two essay questions (maximum 500 words per essay). The document should clearly specify each answer by number. Essays will be scored based on quality, content, organization, and proper formatting, grammar and spelling.

    1. What sparked your interest in the gunsmithing field? What do you hope to accomplish with your training and certification?

    2. Give two examples of how you have exhibited leadership. Explain how you were influential and what you where trying to achieve. These answers need not be demonstrated through formal or traditional leadership roles. Think broadly and examine the many ways you are having an effect on the people around you.


    SDI must be in receipt of all application documentation as noted above by the following deadlines to be considered for the award:

  • By midnight Mountain Standard Time on December 1st for the Spring award.
  • By midnight Mountain Standard Time on June 1st for the Fall award.
  • Evaluation Process:

    Applications will be reviewed by a Scholarship Committee. The selected recipient will be identified based on a combination of factors including:

  • Essay Score
  • Recommendation Letter
  • Applicants will be notified of the committee’s decision via email approximately 30 days after the scholarship application deadline. The chosen recipient must respond within 30 days indicating intent to accept the scholarship. Should the recipient opt out or fail to respond within 30 days, the scholarship will be awarded to the next highest qualifying applicant.

    Student Payment Plans

    SDI offers students the option to make recurring payments with no interest charge during their program of study when other funding options are not available. Students should contact the Financial Services department to establish suitable payment options. In most circumstances, a credit or debit card is required for monthly payment plans.

    Other Agency Support

    State Vocational Rehabilitation

    Vocational Rehabilitation is designed to help disabled individuals in preparation of job-focused activities. Training, counseling, and other services are provided to those with physical and/or mental disabilities that hinder employment. Eligible students may receive services from state agencies for vocational rehabilitation. Further information may be obtained by contacting the local office within the student’s state of residence.