Scholarships for Military Children application deadline

Tags: HeroStories

FORT LEE, Va. - Are you digging under the sofa cushions for misplaced change and rolling coins from your money jar to help pay for college tuition? Given the soaring costs of higher education, you certainly aren¹t alone. Perhaps a $1,500 scholarship could help?

Applications for the 2008 Scholarships for Military Children Program must be turned in to a commissary by close of business Feb. 20. They are available in commissaries worldwide or online, where they can be filled out on the computer and printed, or printed and filled out by hand. At least one scholarship will be awarded at every commissary location with qualified applicants.

The scholarship program kicked off in 2001 and, according to agency officials, has awarded more than $5.5 million dollars in scholarships to 3,532 of the best and brightest children of military families.

Retired Marine Lt. Col. Fred Thomas's son Mark earned a scholarship in 2001. He said he's still paying for his son's undergraduate tuition, but every scholarship helps. "[This scholarship] was one more piece that allowed my son to attend a top university and excel by not having to work his way through," Thomas explained. Mark posted a 3.96 grade point average upon graduating from the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ind., with a Bachelor of Arts in theology, music and philosophy. He is presently a Senator Jacob K. Javits Fellow at Boston College, Mass., working on a doctorate of philosophy in religion.

The scholarship program is open to unmarried children under the age of 21 (23 if enrolled in school) of active-duty, Reserve, Guard and retired military personnel. Eligibility will be determined using the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System database. Applicants should ensure that they, as well as their sponsor, are currently enrolled in the DEERS database and that they have a current ID card. All applicants must be U.S. citizens

The applicant must be planning to attend, or already attending, an accredited college or university full-time in the fall term of 2008. Students at community or junior colleges must be enrolled in a program of studies designed to transfer directly into a four-year program.

"Applications must be in the store by close of business Feb. 20," said Edna Hoogewind, DeCA's scholarship program liaison, "either by hand or mail." If you are not hand-delivering your application, Hoogewind recommends using a delivery method that supplies a return receipt. From April 15 through July 1, applicants can go online and verify receipt of their application in the "Verification of Receipt" section.

Hoogewind also advises students to check all their materials carefully for simple things, like making sure the application is signed or that they are using the 2008 application, not one from previous years. Everything applicants need to know about the program can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the military scholar Web page.

The Scholarships for Military Children program is funded through donations by the general public and by product manufacturers and brokers that sell groceries in commissaries. Fisher House Foundation, a nonprofit organization best known for building comfort homes near military medical facilities, administers the Scholarships for Military Children program. Fisher House Foundation uses the services of Scholarship Managers, a professional firm that has handled more than 400 programs, to screen applicants and award scholarships. Neither Fisher House nor DeCA are involved in the decision process.

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5 percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their purchases compared to commercial prices  savings worth about $3,000 annually for a family of four. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America's military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their count