Foundation offers scholarships for veteran students, dependents

As American soldiers continue to be called to the frontlines, USF has enlisted another scholarship service to support veteran students.

The Pat Tillman Foundation, an organization that provides scholarships to veterans, active service members and their dependents, partnered with USF in January to provide financial aid to selected scholarship recipients.

Starting March 7, applications for the Tillman scholarship program will open online to veteran and military dependent students, said Larry Braue, director of Veteran Services at USF.

He said any of the 1,250 veteran students and dependents enrolled at USF in any level of education can apply for the scholarship.

“All the applications are turned into a committee at the University, and they select the top 10 applicants to be placed into a pool, and the Tillman Foundation selects the scholarship recipients,” Braue said.

Hunter Riley, director of programs at the Tillman Foundation, said the scholarship amounts can vary depending on their individual needs.

“We give out 64 scholarships a year, and half of those are given to the applicants from 12 partnered schools,” Riley said. “The average we try to give to each person is about $6,500, but our highest is $23,000 and lowest is $1,500.”

The other half of the scholarships are given to candidates selected from the universities at large in the nation. Riley said the Foundation deals with 46 different institutions overall.

He said the scholarship money can be used in “all areas of life,” such as school, child care or insurance. The candidates chosen for the scholarship will be informed June 1.

All scholarships awarded are renewable for the length of the student’s degree program, provided they continue to meet the academic requirements: 3.0 GPA and full-time status, he said. The student must also maintain community involvement.

The foundation was founded in 2004 by friends and family of Pat Tillman, who was killed while serving in Afghanistan. Tillman played football for the Arizona Cardinals when he decided to join the Army Rangers and serve his country.

The foundation’s scholarships are funded by donations made in fundraising activities such as the “Pat Run/Walk” where people pledge to walk 4.2 miles for donations. The walk ends on the 42-yard line of the Arizona Cardinals’ football stadium.

USF is one of five new universities to join the foundation in supporting student veterans and their families.

“We currently are working with 12 schools around the country,” Riley said. “USF is our first Florida school.”

Some other university partners include Columbia University, Texas A&M University and the University of Arizona.

He said the decision to partner with USF came from its connection to the military community in the Tampa area and because of the longevity of the Veterans office at USF, calling it a “big bonus for (the) partnership.”

“We wanted to spread our reach down to Florida as we had only gone as far as Atlanta,” Riley said. “USF stood out amongst all the candidates.”

Braue said the University applied for the partnership last year but was declined and then reapplied this year.

He said the Office of Veterans Services will assist students with the application by setting up writing workshops to help with its essay portion, which he says is a key component.

“The administration of USF has also been very supportive in this partnership,” Braue said. “They have been kind of a force behind this from the start.”