Through its Legacy Scholarship, The American Legion has been caring for the children of the men and women who honorably served their country and gave the ultimate sacrifice while on active-duty military service on or after 9/11. The renewable scholarship has assisted children with paying for the rising cost of higher education.
After Thursday’s approval of Resolution 1, the scholarship’s eligibility requirements are expanding and the amount of financial aid awarded is increasing.
Children of post-9/11 veterans with a VA disability rating of 50 percent or higher are now eligible to apply to the Legacy Scholarship, which will award up to $20,000 in aid. The National Executive Committee passed the Committee on Youth Education’s resolution during the Legion’s annual Spring Meetings in Indianapolis.
Changes to the scholarship will go into effect starting with the 2017 application, which is due April 20, 2017.
“The American Legion will continue to ensure that the children of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice during the war on terrorism will receive the assistance they need in obtaining the best education possible,” said American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett. “The children of the fallen will remain a priority with the Legacy Scholarship. However, we are expanding the qualification criteria because it is critically important that we meet the needs of children of veterans who live with the aftermath of war every day.”
Since the Legacy Scholarship’s inception following the Sept. 11 attacks, more than $440,000 has been awarded to help children of the fallen with the expense of graduate or post-graduate tuition, books, room and board, meal plans, transportation and other supplies needed to achieve a higher education.
“I was so thankful when I found out I received the scholarship because my father was the main supporter in our family, and I knew it would be hard for my mom to pay for college,” said Eva Marie Witt from Springfield, Ohio. “The (Legacy) Scholarship pays honor and tribute to my father, and I am just so thankful that I’ve been able to pay for my college and not have that extra worry and stress on top of everything I’m already dealing with.”
With the increase in aid awarded, the Legacy Scholarship is now a needs-based one. The grant amount each scholarship recipient will receive will be based on his or her financial need after all federal and state aid is exhausted. Recipients will have a year to use the grant and may reapply to the scholarship up to six times. And the number of scholarships awarded and the amount of financial aid granted to each awardee (this includes returning applicants) will be determined on donations to the scholarship fund and one's financial needs.
Scholarship recipients are selected by The American Legion’s Committee on Youth Education during the organization’s annual Spring Meetings in May; all applicants, whether recipients of the Legacy Scholarship or not, will be notified immediately thereafter. This week, 31 scholarships of $1,612 were awarded.
New and returning Legacy Scholarship applicants can apply online at www.legion.org/scholarships/legacy; completed applications must be submitted by April 20.
For children of the fallen, this includes legally adopted children, the parent did not have to die in combat or on foreign soil. And for children of post-9/11 disabled veterans, it is important to note that the veteran must have a 50 percent or higher disability rating from the VA, not from the Social Security Administration. Paperwork showing the VA disability rating – and a military death certificate for the fallen servicemember – will be required in the application process.
The Legion Riders' annual Legacy Run has helped obtain donations to the scholarship, including $1 million last year. "The American Legion Riders have worked hard to raise funds over the years for the Legacy Scholarship," Barnett said. "I want to personally thank them for the work they have done to raise awareness and funds for this important scholarship. And also thank them for their support as the criteria for the scholarship has been updated to help more young men and women. This program would not be nearly as successful without the dedication of our American Legion Riders."
Donations to the Legacy Scholarship made be made online at www.legion.org/donate or by mail to
American Legion Charities
Attn: American Legion Legacy Scholarship Donation
P.O. Box 361626
Indianapolis, IN 46236