Students studying around a table

Scholarship Opportunities for Surviving Family Members

One way of taking the first step to your new normal is by following your own educational dreams. If you or your children are interested in pursuing higher education, there are several scholarship opportunities available from both private organizations and federal programs providing financial assistance.

Scholarship opportunities from private organizations

  • The goal of the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation is to ensure that no child of a deceased service member has to pay out-of-pocket or take out loans for to pay for college.
  • The Fisher House Foundation established the Heroes' Legacy Scholarship for the children of service members who have died or become disabled through their active-duty service since Sept. 11, 2001.
  • The American Legion Legacy Scholarship is for children of military members who have died while on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001.
  • The Defense Commissary Agency runs The Scholarships for Military Children Program, funded by the manufacturers and suppliers of commissary goods. The organization aims to award at least one scholarship each year for every commissary worldwide that receives qualified applications.
  • Special Operations Warrior Foundation provides or identifies funding for educational programs for children with a parent who died serving in Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force special operations.
  • Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, also known as TAPS, connects survivors of military deaths to available education benefits.

The Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs both have links to more scholarships specifically for military children.

Department of Veterans Affairs education benefits

  • Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program. If you're a surviving military spouse, you are eligible for educational benefits for up to 20 years after the date of your husband or wife's death. Your children are also eligible to use their educational benefits, but typically only between the ages of 18 and 26.
  • Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (PDF). Children or spouses of those who died in the line of duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, are potentially eligible to receive the Fry Scholarship, which can provide up to 36 months of benefits at the 100 percent level.
  • Post-9/11 GI Bill. Did your spouse transfer any months of unused post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits before his or her death? If so, you can take advantage of this benefit for up to 15 years after your loved one's death. If unused months were transferred to your child, they can also benefit as long as they have attained a secondary school diploma (or equivalency certificate) or are at least 18 years of age.

Service-specific scholarships and aid

Each military service and related organization offers financial assistance to family members in need and many have scholarship options. Check out your particular branch of service for more information.

Your loved one served bravely and, while nothing can take their place in your heart, pursuing your educational dreams is just one small way to honor their legacy.