FORT LEE, Va. — For 700 sons and daughters of active duty, retired, and National Guard and Reserve military commissary customers, attending college just got a little less expensive. Each was competitively selected to receive a $2,000 grant from the Scholarships for Military Children program.
The program, created in 2001, recognizes the contributions of military families to the readiness of the fighting force and celebrates the commissary’s role in enhancing the military quality of life. It’s administered by Fisher House Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to service members and their families.
“Overall scholarship applications were up about 8 percent over last year,” said Jim Weiskopf, Fisher House Foundation vice president. “We were also pleased to see an increase in overseas applications, with a resulting increase in the number of recipients living in overseas areas,” he added.
“The stores did a great job communicating the availability of the scholarship,” said Marye Dobson, Defense Commissary Agency liaison for the program. In all, there were 4,876 qualified applicants this time around.
No government funds are used to support the program. DeCA’s industry partners — vendors, manufacturers, brokers and suppliers — as well as the general public, donate money to fund the program, and every dollar donated goes directly to funding the scholarships. The contributions go to Fisher House Foundation Inc., which treats each as a “restricted donation.” The foundation in turn contracts with Scholarship Managers, a professional scholarship management firm, to evaluate the applications and select the best qualified as awardees.
“This year, one of the recipients from the Fort Lee, Virginia, store is the sister of a prior scholarship recipient,” said Dobson. “It was nice to hear from her about the success the first sister has achieved, knowing the Fisher House Scholarship has helped her along her journey.”
The number of scholarship awards each year is based on funds available, but the program awards at least $2,000 at each military commissary. If there are no eligible applicants from a given commissary, the funds designated for that commissary are awarded as an additional scholarship at a different store.
The list of this year’s winners is posted at http://www.militaryscholar.org/sfmc/winners17.html.
Planning for next year’s program will begin soon, and the announcement of open dates to apply is usually made in the fall.
Applications will be available in commissaries worldwide and online at http://www.militaryscholar.org. One of the side benefits of visiting the militaryscholar.org website is the recent addition there of a comprehensive scholarship search engine. “Many applicants use the free scholarship search engine offered by Fisher House Foundation, enabling them to see what other scholarship programs they might qualify for,” said Weiskopf.
To be eligible to apply for a scholarship, a student must be a dependent, unmarried child, younger than 21 — or 23, if already enrolled as a full-time student at a college or university — of a service member on active duty, reservist, guardsman, retiree or survivor of a military member who died while on active duty or survivor of a retiree. Applicants should ensure that they, as well as their sponsor, are enrolled in the DEERS database and have a current military ID card.