The Feb. 17 deadline to apply to the Scholarships for Military Children program, administered by the nonprofit Fisher House Foundation, is quickly approaching.
A total of 500 scholarship grants, each for $2,000, will be awarded for the 2021-22 school year with at least one recipient selected at every commissary location where qualified applications are received. Additional recipients will be selected based on a prorated basis, so more applicants will be selected from those commissaries with larger numbers of applicants.
“As of Feb. 2, there had been just over 1,400 completed applications submitted, but from experience, we anticipate somewhere near 5,000 by the deadline,” said Marshall Banks, Fisher House Foundation community liaison.
The program was created in 2001 to recognize the contributions of military families to the readiness of the fighting force, and to celebrate the role of the commissary in the military family community. It is open to sons and daughters of active duty, reserve/guard, or retired military commissary customers.
“Our commissaries are absolutely honored to be a part of a program that provides the children of military service members with such a valuable financial boost to their higher education dreams,” said Marine Corps Sgt.Maj. Michael R. Saucedo, senior enlisted advisor to the Defense Commissary Agency director.
All rules and requirements for the program, as well as links to frequently asked questions and the application, are available at MilitaryScholar.org.
The Scholarships for Military Children Program is now in its 21st year. Through the generosity of DeCA business partners and others, a total of 11,812 students have shared over $20.1 million in scholarship grants. They were selected from a pool of nearly 105,000 applicants.
Eligibility for the program is determined using the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) database. Applicants should ensure that they, as well as their sponsor, are enrolled in the DEERS database and have a current military dependent ID card. The applicant must also be planning to attend or already be attending an accredited college or university full time, or be enrolled in a program of studies designed to transfer directly into a four-year program.
Applicants who are awarded a full scholarship to attend a college or university or receive an appointment to one of the service academies or affiliated preparatory schools are not eligible to receive funds from this program. A full scholarship is usually defined as one that provides for payment of tuition, books, lab fees and other expenses.
Among the requirements of the application process is providing a short essay. This year’s essay question is designed to provoke a thoughtful response: “COVID-19 has limited opportunities for social interaction and normal school activities. What steps have you taken during the pandemic to enrich yourself or make positive contributions to others?”
Fisher House also recently added a custom scholarship search engine to the site, tailored to military families, called “Scholarships for Service.” It’s free, easy to use, and formatted for both mobile devices and computers at MilitaryScholar.org.
Students enter brief background information and educational goals and the search tool will identify military-affiliated scholarships they may be eligible for based on their input. Once the search is complete, students receive a list of scholarships with a summary of eligibility requirements, points of contact and links to the scholarship provider's website.
“Fisher House Foundation is proud to work with DeCA on our scholarship program,” said Fisher House Chairman and CEO Kenneth Fisher. “We believe it is important to recognize the contributions and sacrifices of our military families.”
The Scholarships for Military Children program is managed by Scholarship Managers, a national, nonprofit organization. If students have questions about the scholarship program application, they should call Scholarship Managers at 856-616-9311 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No government funds are used to support the Scholarships for Military Children Program. Commissary vendors, manufacturers, brokers, suppliers and the general public donate money to fund the program.
“Fisher House Foundation matches all donations, dollar for dollar, and does not charge for its services, including the costs of administration and the cost of the scholarship management contract,” explained Banks. “This means that a $10,000 donation for example, which formerly sponsored five scholarships of $2,000 each, will now be matched by $10,000 from Fisher House Foundation. The donor will receive credit for a $20,000 donation, and be the sponsor for 10 scholarship recipients.”
“We at the Defense Commissary Agency extend our thanks to the Fisher House Foundation as well as our industry partner donors and all others who have continued to make these scholarships possible for the past 21 years and counting,” said Saucedo.