University of Maryland Global Campus offers multiple scholarships—which include full tuition, fees, and course-required resources—for caregivers of recovering servicemembers and veterans through the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program. This scholarship aims to honor the unparalleled selflessness and extraordinary commitment of these caregivers.

The application for 2021–2022 scholarships is open from November 11, 2020 (Veterans Day) to March 31, 2021.

The program is managed by UMGC and The Blewitt Foundation in association with the National Military Family Association.

Eligibility Criteria

To be considered for this scholarship program, you must be a spouse, parent, stepparent, sibling, stepsibling, fiancé, child, stepchild, or friend of a servicemember or veteran who became wounded, injured, or ill in the line-of-duty after September 11, 2001. Enrollment in the VA Caregiver Program or assignment as a DoD-designated non-medical attendant (NMA) is not required. However, UMGC will, in its entirety, determine eligibility based on the documentation required for the proof of caregiver status to that veteran or servicemember.

A scholarship review committee will verify each applicant's caregiver status based on the supporting materials required as part of the application process.

In addition, you must

  • Have received a high school diploma or GED

  • Be currently enrolled or plan to enroll, if selected, in a degree or certificate program at UMGC with a minimum of 6 credits per term for undergraduate students or 3 credits per term for graduate students during the fall and spring terms; winter and summer term registration is optional, although the scholarship covers courses taken in those terms

  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid before the scholarship application deadline; please note the following:

    • UMGC's school code is 011644.

    • Applicants with Title IV student loans in default cannot be considered for the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program.

  • Agree to participate in activities to help promote the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program; activities may include a photo shoot, attendance at an event, and the creation of a video documenting scholarship recipients

How to Apply

Complete all three of the following steps by March 31, 2021, at 11:59 p.m.

Step 1: Submit the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program application.

Step 2: Complete the FAFSA if you have not already done so. UMGC's school code is 011644.

Step 3: E-mail your supporting documentation to pillarsofstrength@umgc.edu.

You will need to submit

  1. One document containing short essay responses to all of the scholarship essay prompts

    Please review the essay prompts carefully

    • Describe the circumstances and challenges of your caregiver role and the condition of the recovering servicemember or veteran you care for. (200-word minimum required)

    • Describe your personal, academic, and career achievements to date. (200-word minimum required)

    • Describe your extracurricular interests and pursuits and any of your volunteer or community activities. (200-word minimum required)

    • Describe what you hope to achieve with this scholarship. How will it help you achieve your goals? How will it help you and your family overcome challenges? (300-word minimum required)

    • How will you represent UMGC, The Blewitt Foundation, and the National Military Family Association as an alumnus of the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program? (100-word minimum required)

  2. A signed letter of reference from someone familiar with your circumstances and qualifications; the letter should not be from a family member

  3. Documentation of your caregiver role including the condition of the recovering servicemember or veteran who you assist

    Please see examples of caregiver documentation

    Examples of documentation include, but are not limited to

    • DD Form 214 (with a notation for a Purple Heart award)

    • VA Rating Decision Letter

    • Line of Duty (LOD) Determination

    • Medical Evaluation Board (MEB)/Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) Narrative Summary

    • Enlisted Record Brief (ERB) or Officer Record Brief (ORB)

    • DoD Nonmedical Attendant Orders

    • Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) Orders

    • A letter from a nurse case manager or physician

    • A letter from a military commander verifying the servicemember or veteran's need for a caregiver

    • VA Caregiver Letter or Certificate

    • Proof of enrollment in the VA Caregiver Support Program, such as a pay stub from the past 60 days or an enrollment letter

    • Proof of membership in the American Red Cross Military and Veteran Network (MVCN), the Elizabeth Dole Foundation Hidden Heroes Program, Wounded Warrior Project, Easter Seals Military Caregiver Program, or similar organizations

Deadline and Submission Information

The application deadline for the 2021–2022 Pillars of Strength Scholarship is March 31, 2021.

Review Process

Once you submit the scholarship application and e-mail your supporting materials, your complete application package will be reviewed by a committee from UMGC. The review committee will assess your application based on

  • Whether you fulfill the eligibility requirements

  • Your individual circumstances

  • The strength of your application

  • Your FAFSA eligibility (Applicants with Title IV student loans in default cannot be considered for the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program.)

All applicants will be notified—whether they receive the scholarship or not—by March 31, 2021. If you are not selected to receive the scholarship for the 2021–2022 academic year, you may apply for the scholarship again next year.

Award Information

The Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program covers full tuition, fees, and course-required resources for each term during the academic year.

FAQs: Requirements for Renewal and Continuous Eligibility

I received the Pillars of Strength Scholarship. How can I renew my award for subsequent years? +

If you are selected to receive the scholarship, you will not need to resubmit the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program application each year to continue receiving your award. You may continue to receive the scholarship for up to seven additional years.

You will need to

  • Complete the FAFSA each year before the fall FAFSA deadline
  • Register for at least 6 credits each term if you're an undergraduate student or at least 3 credits each term if you're a graduate student in the fall and spring terms; winter and summer term registration is not required to maintain your eligibility, although the scholarship covers courses taken in those terms
  • Remain in good academic standing by meeting the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirement

Once you have completed your degree or certificate program, funding from the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program will not be available for any additional studies.

Will I continue receiving the Pillars of Strength Scholarship if I do not continue to meet and maintain my eligibility requirements? +

You will not be eligible for scholarship funds if you do not meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements each semester. You must also complete the FAFSA each year before the fall FAFSA deadline. Also, you must register for at least 6 credits each term if you're an undergraduate student or at least 3 credits each term if you're a graduate student in the fall and spring terms; winter and summer term registration is not required to maintain your eligibility, although the scholarship covers courses taken in those terms. You will be required to pay for courses on your own until you are able to meet those requirements.

In which scenarios will I become ineligible for additional funds from the Pillars of Strength Scholarship? +

You will not be eligible for additional scholarship funding after the expiration period—up to seven additional years for undergraduate recipients and graduate recipients. If you have not completed your program of study within the established scholarship period, you are still eligible to continue your studies. However, you will be responsible for all remaining payments.

UMGC reserves the right to make reductions or cancellations to your Pillars of Strength Scholarship award if you

  • Become ineligible for financial aid due to a default status on your current loans

  • Are receiving more than one UMGC foundational scholarship that exceeds institutional award maximums as determined by the UMGC Office of Financial Aid

  • Are receiving another tuition-restricted scholarship

  • Are receiving additional financial aid that exceeds your financial aid eligibility when coupled with this scholarship

  • Withdraw or fail to complete the required enrollment for the term

  • Are deemed ineligible for funding based on unsatisfactory academic performance or financial aid standing

NSPA 2018 Scholarship Provider of the Year

Scholarship Provider of the YearIn 2018, the National Scholarship Providers Association honored UMGC with the Scholarship Provider of the Year Award. The NSPA highlighted the impact of the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program during their conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

This prestigious award—sponsored by Fastweb for more than 20 years—recognizes organizations and universities who demonstrate exceptional leadership, achievement, and innovation through scholarship programs.

 

Note for Donors

If you are interested in contributing to this great cause, please consider making a donation in support of the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program.