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Scholarship opportunities available for military children, spouses

January 8, 2016 (Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

It’s scholarship season for military families, and opportunities abound for children as well as spouses. Here are a just a few of the hundreds of scholarships available.

Be aware of application deadlines, including some that are coming up within a month.

  • The National Military Family Association’s Military Spouse Scholarship Program, online entry deadline of midnight Jan. 31. Scholarships ranging from $500 to $2,500 are awarded to spouses pursuing various levels of education or professional advancement. Funding can be used for a wide range of educational pursuits, including all levels of degrees, certification programs, vocational training, licensure fees and exams, professional courses and classes, continuing education credits, high school equivalency programs, and English as a Second Language classes. Spouses of service members in any branch, anywhere in the world, can apply with a valid military ID. Also eligible are spouses of retirees and a number of others, including spouses of medically retired, wounded or fallen service members in service-connected incidents that took place after Sept. 11, 2001. Last year, NMFA gave out 400 scholarships to military spouses.
  • Scholarships for Military Children, deadline is close of business Feb. 12. Applications are accepted only at military commissaries. They can be delivered by hand, snail mail or commercial delivery; electronic applications are not accepted. A total of 700 scholarships, each worth $2,000, will be awarded. At least one scholarship will be awarded at every commissary location where qualified applications are received. Extra scholarships will be awarded on a prorated basis, which means more will be awarded at commissaries with larger numbers of applicants. The nonprofit Fisher House Foundation administers the program, which is funded by donations from the general public and by members of the industry that sells groceries in commissaries. Eligible are dependent unmarried children of active-duty members, Guard and reserve members, and military retirees, as well as survivors of service members who died on active duty and survivors of deceased military retirees. Applicants must be younger than 21, or younger than 23 if enrolled as a full-time student at a college or university. For more information and to download the application, visit www.militaryscholar.org. You can also call 856-616-9311, or email militaryscholar@scholarshipmanagers.com.  
  • Military Officers Association of America Scholarship Fund’s Educational Assistance Program, with a deadline of noon Eastern time, March 1. Eligible are children under age 24 of former, currently serving or retired commissioned or warrant officers, and children of currently serving or retired enlisted personnel. In 2015, the fund distributed nearly $9.3 million in grants and interest-free loans to more than 1,700 military families. 

In addition to the above, the military relief societies offer robust scholarship programs, generally based on financial need. Some scholarships are in the form of grants, others are interest-free loans:

  • Air Force Aid Society's education grant program, deadline March 18. Grants ranging from $500 to $4,000 are awarded to selected children of Air Force Active Guard and Reserve members; Air Force retirees;  deceased Air Force members; spouses of Air Force active-duty and AGR members; and surviving spouses of deceased Air Force personnel in fulltime undergraduate studies. Highest levels of assistance go to students who show the greatest need.
  • Army Emergency Relief, scholarship programs, deadline May 1. The Spouse Scholarship Program and the Maj. Gen. James Ursano Scholarship Program for dependent children last year awarded a total of 4,245 scholarships worth more than $9 million to spouses and children of soldiers. The scholarships last year ranged from $500 to $3,300. Visit www.aerhq.org for more information, and the online application.
  • Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society education assistance program, must be postmarked or emailed by May 1. Interest-free loans and grants range from $500 to $3,000 per academic year. Applicants must be a spouse of an active-duty or retired sailor or Marine; or a child under age 23 of an active-duty, retired (including retired reservist drawing military retirement pay) or deceased sailor or Marine who died on active duty or after retirement.  

Don't forget to check out some other scholarships available for children of specific service branches, or those who served in various occupations such as special operations, or who are eligible because of a variety of other factors.

For example, the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation scholarships deadline is March 1. These are open to children of active-duty or reserve Marines, Marine veterans or those killed while serving in the Corps; active-duty or reserve Navy corpsmen who serve or have served with a Marine unit; and veteran Navy corpsmen who served with a Marine unit or were killed while serving as corpsmen with a Marine unit. Since the organization was founded in 1962, it has provided more than 35,000 scholarships valued at nearly $100 million. The organization recently received an historic donation of $16.5 million from Capri Sun founder Dr. Hans-Peter Wild. 

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