About the Special Operations Warrior Foundation
and the Marine Gunnery Sgt. John David Fry Scholarship
We commend Congress for implementing a program to provide college scholarship assistance to children of military personnel killed in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001.
The Special Operations Warrior Foundation must continue to provide scholarships for children of pre- 9/11 special operations losses, educational counseling for children of both pre 9/11 and post 9/11 losses, and to provide immediate financial assistance to families of severely wounded special operations personnel.
In recognition of the unique nature of the Special Operations Forces (SOF) role in our nation’s military engagements and the unique nature of the problems faced by active-duty SOF personnel, the Warrior Foundation has undertaken a comprehensive study to determine the unmet needs of special operations forces and their families.
The mission of SOWF will be expanded. It will continue to provide promised scholarships to children of SOF operators lost pre 9-10-01, our educational counseling services to families of all fallen SOF warriors, and our current immediate cash support to families of seriously wounded SOF operators.
In addition, SOWF is planning to include additional support to wounded SOF service members and their families, additional focus on dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and a wider range of support to families of active SOF forces.
These new programs (currently under study by the SOWF management and board of directors) will be described as each new program is introduced.
While the Fry Scholarship benefits are generous, eligibility restrictions may leave many children without funding, notably the nearly 400 children whose parents lost their lives prior to Sept. 11, 2001.
The SOWF will ensure all children of fallen special operations personnel are provided the opportunity for college education.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How does the Fry Scholarship affect the Special Operations Warrior Foundation’ s mission? Answer: Despite the new bill’s expanded benefits, many children would not qualify under its strict terms. The SOWF and its supporters play an important role by bridging the gap for the children of fallen special operations personnel who will not meet the bill’s eligibility requirements; or students that are unable to complete their college education in the allotted 36 months.
SOWF will continue to provide funding for vocational/technical/trade schools, transportation, online programs, computers, or other personal expenses. According to the U.S. Department of Education only 36 percent of students graduate from college within four years. A number of reasons explain the delay, including students who switch majors or schools. In fact, over half of the students switch majors at least once.
Other factors for the delay include taking remedial courses and being shut out of popular or required courses. An additional year could boost the total cost of a college education by 25 percent that would not be provided by the Fry Scholarship.
2. What is the Marine Gunnery Sgt. John David Fry Scholarship? Answer: The Fry Scholarship is an extension of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, benefiting the children of fallen service members after 9/11.
3. Are all children of fallen Special Operations personnel eligible for college tuition/fees through the bill? Answer: Not all children are eligible. The new bill provides expanded benefits to the children of service members who lost their lives post Sept. 11, 2001. Those children, who lost a parent prior to the conflict in Iraq or Afghanistan in an earlier conflict or training accident, do not qualify for the Fry Scholarship.
4. What does the Fry Scholarship provide?
a. The Fry provides 36 months of funding for all surviving children of service members who die in the line of duty. The surviving children are eligible from the time they graduate high school or from age 18 until they turn 33 years old.
b. Tuition for in-state or out-of-state and private colleges up to $20,235. The funds are sent directly to the college.
c. Housing allowance at the rate of an active duty E-5. The funds are sent directly to the student.
i. The amount varies and is determined using the zip code of the college
ii. If a student is attending college part time and is taking at least 7 credits then they will receive the housing allowance at a full time rate.
d. Up to $1,000 per year for books and fees. The amount is provided is a set amount per credit hour. The current rate is $41.67 per credit hour for a maximum of 24 credits per year. If taking online courses, housing allowance is one-half the national average. The funds are sent directly to the student.
5. What does the Fry Scholarship exclude?
a. Miscellaneous expenses. This expense varies by location but is estimated from $1,500 to $2,000 per year.
b. Funding for Transportation. This expense varies by location but is estimated from $1,500 to $2,000 per year.
c. Funds for a computer.
d. Tuition Funding is a maximum $19,198.31 per year for students attending out of state or private colleges.
6. Can students choose to use their current Chapter 35 benefits or use the Fry program?Answer: Yes, the students can choose which program they want to use.
7. Are students eligible for both the Chapter 35 and the post 9-11 GI Bill? Answer: Yes, however, they cannot be used at the same time.
8. If students are already using the Chapter 35 program, can they switch to the Fry? Answer: Yes, however, if they have already used all of their Chapter 35 benefits, then they will not be eligible for the Fry benefits.
9. If a student has used part of their Chapter 35 months, how does that effect the months of eligibility on the new Post 9-11 FS program? Answer: The months of benefits already used will be deducted from the months of eligibility for the Fry program.
10. Does the VA have a method to track all eligible children and families? Answer: No. The families are responsible for contacting the VA. The VA does normally have an address for the families because of the survivor financial benefits the families receive.
11. What is the Yellow Ribbon Program? Answer: Participating colleges and universities provide up to 50% of the additional costs for students paying out of state residence rates. The VA matches the amount the college provides. The decision to participate is up to each college and university.
12. Are students eligible for the Fry also eligible for the Yellow Ribbon program? Answer: Not at this time. **Dependents are not eligible for yellow ribbon unless they are using the Post 9/11 GI Bill that their parent passed onto them before their death**
13. Will the funding be available on a partial rate if the student attends summer school? Answer: Yes. Funding will be on a partial rate. However, if a student is attending part time and is taking at least 7 credits, then they will receive full housing allowance.
14. If a student attends summer school or part time will the funding count against a full month’s entitlement? Answer: Yes. The months that they attend summer school or attend part time will be deducted from their total allotment of 36 months.
15. Will step children qualify? Answer: If the child is listed on the DD form 1300 then they are eligible. If the child is not listed on the DD form 1300 but was being cared for and provided for by the deceased military member then they can apply for an exception with VA. The exceptions are approved or denied on a case by case basis.
16. How long does it take for the students to begin receiving the housing allowance?Answer: It takes 60 to 90 days to process the application and for the student to begin receiving the housing allowance. The housing allowance will not begin until the student can show they have registered in an accredited college or university.
17. What happens if the 36 months of benefits have been used and the student has not completed their degree? Answer: If the student has not completed their degree within the 36 months, their VA funding will end and the SOWF will provide the funds for the remaining semesters.
18. What is the grade point average requirement to receive the funds from the Fry? Answer: The VA has no GPA requirement; however, the SOWF and most colleges and universities do, which is usually 2.0.
19. Will the VA provide funding if a student fails a course and has to repeat the course? Answer: It depends on if the grade is punitive or non-punitive. If the grade will affect the overall grade point average then it is considered punitive and the VA will not pay for the course again. If the grade is non-punitive the college or university program allows the new grade to be substituted for a failing grade then the VA will pay for it.
20. Are surviving spouses eligible for the Fry Scholarship? Answer: No. However, surviving spouses are eligible for Chapter 35 benefits in the amount of $1,018, effective Oct. 1, 2014.
21. What does the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) provide that is not provided by the Fry Scholarship program?
a. SOWF provides funding for post-secondary education to all surviving children of special operations service members that have died in the line of duty. This includes all accredited colleges, universities, private colleges, accredited vocational and trade schools. The funding is available up to the award of a post secondary degree or completion of a vocational or trade school.
b. Our mentoring program provides continual encouragement with the families and children so they know this wonderful benefit is available to them and they need to prepare themselves to take full advantage of it.
c. The counseling is important to the families for encouragement and referrals to agencies that can assist with other issues the families are facing. We understand these are not normal circumstances for the children, and the loss of a parent is devastating to many. The children may have learning disabilities and or require extensive therapy to cope with the loss of their parent.
d. Funding for additional costs when students attend out of state or private colleges and universities. (Limited to the national average cost for college, as determined by the College Board.) In 2013, the national average was $23,791.
Each student is provided a new laptop computer when they register for their freshman year of college or then they first enroll in a vocational/trade school. The computer package includes a full warranty, technical support, case, all software, and a printer. Students may attend colleges overseas. However, the national average limit applies.