Education Support Services

Author: Ashlynne Haycock

My dad, Sergeant First Class Jeffrey Haycock, died while training to deploy in 2002 when I was only ten years old. Education was extremely important to him; he actually made me learn all fifty states and their capitals before I started kindergarten. Pursuing a higher education was not optional; his kids would go to college. When he died, attaining his dreams for us seemed uncertain. I always knew, though, that I would go to college, even if I didn’t know how my family would pay for it.I applied and was accepted to the college of my choice, The American University. Getting that acceptance letter was one of the proudest days of my life. I missed my dad terribly in that moment of not being able to share my joy and our success with him. Through a combination of benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, FAFSA, and a lot of student loans, my mother made our family's budget stretch to get me there. I was incredibly grateful for her diligence and sacrifices to make this happen for me. 

Bonnie Carroll and TAPS Supporter

Then, during final exams of my sophomore year of college, my mother died. With no parents, my college finances became not only a monetary struggle, but a paperwork nightmare as well. I learned you cannot change your filing status for benefits from your parent's name to your own right before your senior year of college. I also learned that no one really wants to give a loan of $30,000 to a 21-year-old who has no one to cosign the loan. I was about to lose the dream of a college education within a year of graduating.

I called Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) and was connected to the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation (CFPF). They approved grants for me to cover my tuition and helped me to pay off existing loans. I was able to graduate because of the connections TAPS made and the financial support of CFPF. I graduated on time and without debt.

With my degree in hand, I went to work for my TAPS family to help others the way I had been helped. We realized there was no one-stop shop for information on education benefits and scholarships for surviving military families, so Bonnie Carroll asked me to work on that. I am honored to share some of the amazing resources TAPS now has available to surviving families.

 In May 2014, TAPS signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs to assist surviving families in accessing VA education benefits such as the Fry Scholarship and Chapter 35 benefits.

 In August 2014, President Obama signed into law an expansion of the Fry scholarship. Beginning January 1, 2015, surviving spouses of those who died in the line of duty will now be eligible to receive this benefit. TAPS Education Services staff members can answer any questions you may have about this amazing new benefit.

 TAPS developed an Education Support Services Quick Series guide, similar to the TAPS Survivor Guide and our Benefits and Finances Guide. You can request one of these by emailing education@taps.org.

 On September 30, 2014, TAPS launched the Military Survivor Education Support Services Program at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. It was attended by senior officials of the Department of Veterans Affairs, White House representatives, and leadership from major scholarship organizations. The program provides information and eligibility for education benefits and scholarships for surviving families. You can check it out at www.taps.org/edu.

 TAPS now has full-time Education Support Services staff to assist survivors with any education related questions, including benefits, scholarships, and college applications.

Application Deadlines

As the Education Support Services Coordinator, I have been asked all sorts of questions about scholarships and benefits during the last year. One of the most frequently asked questions regards scholarship application due dates. While the federal benefits do not technically have a due date, it is important to apply as early as possible since it can take up to ninety days to get a Certificate of Eligibility. To further help, continue on to find out the information on application deadlines for some of the key scholarships available to surviving families.

Application Deadlines: For surviving children

Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation

  • No set amount, available for children of those who died in the line of duty or of a service-connected disability
  • No application due date

Freedom Alliance

  • Scholarships of up to $5,000 for children of those who died in the line of duty
  • No application due date

Fisher House Foundation, Heroes Legacy Scholarship

  • Amount varies, for children of those who died while on active duty on or after September 11, 2001
  • Applications available from early December to March 14

Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation

  • $30,000 for children of Marines killed in action; amount varies for children of those who died by other causes
  • Applications available from January 1 to March 1

Special Ops Warrior Foundation

  • Amount varies, for surviving children of Special Operations Service Members who died in the line of duty
  • Applications due at least sixty days prior to the start of the semester

Application Deadlines: For surviving siblings

Matthew Freeman Project

  • $1,000 scholarships for siblings of those who have died in the line of duty
  • No application due date

Application Deadlines: For surviving spouses

Aspire

  • $3,000 scholarships per semester for spouses of those who died on active duty
  • Applications due by October 31  for spring semester and June 30  for fall semester each year

National Military Family Association

  • $500 to $2,500 scholarships for surviving spouses of those who died while on active duty on or after September 11, 2001
  • Applications available from December 1 to January 31

Pat Tillman Foundation

  • Amount varies, scholarships for surviving spouses of those who died on active duty, in veteran status, or in retiree status.
  • Applications available from February 1  to March 6 

Application Deadlines: For multiple relationships

Army Emergency Relief Fund

  • Amount varies, for surviving spouses and children of soldiers who die while on active duty or in retiree status
  • Applications available from January 1 to May 1

Folds of Honor

  • $5,000 scholarships for surviving spouses and children of service members who die in the line of duty or from a service-connected disability
  • Applications available from January 15 to March 15 

Ashlynne HaycockAshlynne Haycock,  Surviving daughter of Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Haycock and Air Force Senior Airman Nichole Haycock and Education Services CoordinatorAshlynne is the Education Services Coordinator for TAPS where she works with hundreds of survivors of military loss to connect them to education benefits and resources to further their goals. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the American University in 2013.