FORT LEE, Va. --
While chocolate and flowers are traditional Valentine gifts, perhaps for students the best gift is a $1,500 scholarship. The Scholarships for Military Children program might be just the ticket this Valentine's Day, but don't procrastinate because applications must be turned in at a commissary by close of business Feb. 21.
The scholarships are available to dependents of military active-duty, Reserve, Guard and retired personnel. Eligibility will be determined using the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System database. Applicants should ensure that they, as well as their sponsor, are enrolled in the DEERS database and have a current ID card.
An applicant must be planning to attend an accredited college or university full-time in the fall term of 2007, or be enrolled in a program of studies designed to transfer directly into a four-year program.
Scholarship applications are available at 263 commissaries worldwide, or can be downloaded through links at www.commissaries.com
Along with their application, applicants must include an essay on "how and why" they would change a historical event. At least one $1,500 scholarship will be awarded at every commissary location with qualified applicants.
"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."
Most of the 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 program is administered by the Fisher House Foundation.
A significant number of scholarships, about 10 percent every year, 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 Department of Defense Education Activity.
"With college costs soaring, our DoD students and their parents appreciate every scholarship available 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," said Tafoya. "They also demonstrate that military communities are committed to education and increased opportunities for all students."
The scholarship program has also made inroads to increasing support from the "non-military" 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.
"We're excited to see this worthwhile program gaining recognition and funding from the community at large, said Jim Weiskopf, vice president of communications at Fisher House Foundation. "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 can be made through the link at www.militaryscholar.org
, the official program Web site.