Deadline Nears for Commissary Scholarship Program

By Carrie Williams
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2007 - Military families have an opportunity to apply for scholarships for their children at certain commissaries, but they better do it soon -- the deadline is Feb. 21.

The "Scholarships for Military Children" program will be making at least one $1,500 scholarship available at each commisary location with qualified applicants, Defense Commissary Agency officials here said.

Scholarships are available to unmarried children under 21 -- under 23 if enrolled in school -- of military active-duty, reserve, Guard and retired personnel.

Program officials use the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System database to determine eligibility. Applicants and sponsors must be enrolled in DEERS and have a current ID card.

"Scholarships for Military Children is a wonderful military community program," said Patrick Nixon, DeCA director and chief executive officer. "Nearly 3,000 scholarships totaling more than $4 million have been awarded since the first awards were given in 2001."

The scholarship program has also made inroads to increasing support from the nonmilitary community. California high school students sponsoring golf tournaments in 2006 raised thousands of dollars to donate to the program, and already for 2007, a private foundation has made a substantial donation.

Most of the program's funds are donated by manufacturers, brokers and suppliers who sell groceries in commissaries, and every dollar donated to the program by industry or the general public goes to fund the scholarships.

The Fisher House Foundation administers the program.

"We're excited to see this worthwhile program gaining recognition and funding from the community at large," said Jim Weiskopf, the foundation's vice president of communications. "Commissary industry support has been amazing, and increased public support can only help ensure that the Scholarships for Military Children program continues to benefit the military community for many years to come."
Donations for the program are accepted atthe foundation'sWeb site, About 10 percent of the scholarships go to high school students at DoD schools overseas.

"Every cent that community organizations can mobilize to support college-bound students is an investment in the future," said Joseph Tafoya, director of the DoD Education Activity. "With college costs soaring, our DoD students and their parents appreciate every available scholarship to help defray the cost, and the scholarships enable many of our families to better afford the tuition and provide an incentive for students to work hard. They also demonstrate that military communities are committed to education and increased opportunities for all students."

Applicants must be planning to attend an accredited college or university full-time in the fall term of 2007, or be enrolled in a program designed to transfer directly into a four-year program, officials said. Along with their application, they must submit an essay on how and why they would change a historical event.

Scholarship applications are available at 263 commissaries worldwide, or can be downloaded through links at the Scolarships for Military Children, DecA and DoD Education Activity's Web sites.

(Carie Williams works at the Defense Commissary Agency.)

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