Pat Tillman Scholarship

Up until a few years ago, I didn’t care about football. In fact, since college bowl games often caused my family to forget my birthday (I’m a New Year’s baby), I kind of resented the sport. It wasn’t until about a year after I started dating my husband that I became a Bears fan. So, when I spent a couple of days in 2006 at Bagram AB waiting for my R&R flight to come in, and visited the USO there, the fact that it was named The Pat Tillman Memorial USO didn’t really mean much to me. Pat Tillman, however, meant a lot to a lot of people and, even in death, continues to impact the lives of servicemembers, not just with the USO that bears his name, but also through the Pat Tillman Scholarship.

Since its refocus on military servicemembers, veterans and their spouses in 2008, the Pat Tillman Foundation has awarded scholarships to 290 military scholars for a total of $4.6 million dollars.  Sixty scholarships are given out each year to individuals who characterize the values that guided Tillman’s life – service, leadership, and academic excellence. The exact amount of the scholarship varies based on need, as the scholarships covers direct educational expenses, such as tuition and books, and other barriers to education, such as room and board and child care. Average award is estimated to be about $10,000, which may be renewable each year if the student maintains full-time status and a 3.0 or above GPA. Application for this year’s program opened yesterday, February 7, 2014 and will close March 6, 2014.

Application for the program is open to active duty, National Guard, Reserves, and honorably discharged veterans, their spouses, and surviving spouses who are pursuing a degree or plan to pursue a degree full-time at the undergraduate (bachelor’s), graduate (master’s), or post-graduate (PhD) levels at an accredited U.S.-based institution.

The application is made up of 10 sections: Personal, Military, Education, Resume, Enrollment, Pat Tillman, Essay Question, Financial, Demographics, and Certification. I filled out a few pages just to get an idea of what they are asking and it is pretty standard – military background (including top five military awards), DD-214 for proof, up to two educational degrees earned, resume, one military and one character reference, etc. However, since each section must be completed in full before moving to the next section, I suggest you gather your DD-214, resume, references, and basic financial/expense information before beginning. (You can go back and view or edit a page you have completed and you can save a partial application and go back in and complete it later.) Also, if you haven’t completed your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will need to do that.

In addition to covering educational expenses, recipients will also receive an invitation to the Pat Tillman Leadership Summit in Chicago and other national conferences, such as the Student Veterans of America summit, entrance into the annual Pat’s Run in Tempe, AZ, or a Shadow Run, opportunities to participate with the Foundation’s partner organizations, such as Team Red, White, and Blue, The Mission Continues, and Team Rubicon, as well as other benefits.

To apply, go to:

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Sarah Maples is a former Air Force intelligence officer and an Afghanistan veteran. She is a freelance writer and editor, specializing in veteran, military, and defense topics.

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